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One-Eighth Of Astros Payroll Goes To Players Not On The Team

When the Houston Astros traded Roy Oswalt to the Phillies, they had a choice to make: they could assume better prospects by eating salary, or take worse prospects and completely cut the cord. They chose to spend the money, and now they have P J.A. Happ, 1B Brett Wallace, and BA Top 100 minor league prospect Jonathan Villar.

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But that price came at assembling this season's roster. Part of the reason that Happ and Wallace were so valuable to the Astros is because they haven't entered their arbitration years yet. Happ is a solid starter, but probably wouldn't command the contracts that either Wandy Rodriguez or Brett Myers received yet based on performance alone. Wallace hasn't proven anything yet at the big league level. 

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But remember the hidden costs of the trade: because the Astros are paying $10 million of Oswalt's contract this season, it essentially means that they gave Happ and Wallace $5 million a piece this season, shattering the payroll flexibility they could have used to acquire a catcher or make a run at someone great last offseason. 

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One of the very few assets a rebuilding club has for certain is their payroll. If you're not a good team, you often don't have good enough players to have the high payroll that comes with it either. Carlos Lee exempted, of course. Surrendering that $10 million to the Phillies is a big part of the reason that this season looks so hopeless for the Astros. Joke all you want about how Ed Wade would have spent it on a reliever, but also know that when you're staring in the face of a Humberto Quintero / J.R. Towles catching platoon all summer, the Phillies are getting Oswalt for only $6 million this year. 

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I'm not saying it was a mistake, because I don't know what was on the table for no money. But it certainly isn't helping the club in the present that Oswalt is being paid more than every non-Lee player on the team.

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Images by eflon used in background images under a Creative Commons license. Thank you.