The Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, and St. Louis Cardinals are all intrigued by free agent starting pitcher Roy Oswalt. Oswalt has eyes for just two of those clubs, it seems, and it just so happens to be the two who can't easily fit him on to their roster. It's Roy Oswalt, though, so if the Rangers or Cardinals really do want him, they can make it happen. All it would take is a move to the bullpen for one of their starters, or a trade to open up a spot for the 11-year veteran.
Boston and Detroit have openings already, but it's clear at this point -- and was before Oswalt rejected an offer from the Tigers -- that his preference is to be closer to home, via Texas or St. Louis. While that initially seems bad for Boston, it's only bad if the Rangers get a hold of him, for two different reasons.
First, the obvious: the Rangers already have a full rotation that goes seven deep, with Alexi Ogando likely joining Scott Feldman as a fellow former starter in the Texas bullpen in 2012. Bumping, most likely, Matt Harrison back to the pen as well to make room for Oswalt gives the Rangers even more ridiculous starting pitching depth, as well as plenty of cushion should Oswalt's back act up and cost him innings once again.
As for the other matter, the Rangers signing Oswalt would mean that the Cardinals are still in the hunt for a starter. The Rangers mainly seem connected to Oswalt because they can be, given his mutual interest, not because they really need another arm. Regardless of a team's situation, if Roy Oswalt wants to be part of the rotation, and there is room in the budget, you find a way to make it work.
The Cardinals, on the other hand, have Jake Westbrook and Kyle Lohse at the back end of their rotation. While Lohse has his uses as an NL-capable innings eater in the right park, and Westbrook's groundball rates generally make him similarly-useful, neither is Oswalt. Neither pitcher is Edwin Jackson, either, who the Cardinals are also reported to be interested in.
If the Cards miss out on Oswalt, Jackson remains in play for them. There is a better chance he fits into their budget, too, as Westbrook and Lohse will combine to make around $19 million combined in 2012, making it difficult to move one of the two in order to free up salary. Jon Morosi tweeted that the Cardinals would be fine moving reliever Kyle McClellan for salary relief (read: a non prospect) in order to make room for Oswalt in the budget, shifting one of Westbrook or Lohse to the pen afterward, and Joe Strauss reports the Cardinals are "actively shopping" McClellan to make this happen.
Oswalt isn't coming to Boston, unless neither the Cards or Rangers can sort things out. This leaves Jackson as their likely target. Should the Cardinals acquire Oswalt, given they already need to move bodies and cash to make room for one pitcher, they aren't about to run off and get Jackson, too. Should Oswalt's meeting with Texas today result in Roy Oswalt: Texas Ranger, though, then Boston still has a Jackson suitor to contend with. While Jackson's preferences aren't as publicly known as Oswalt's, the less competition for his services, the better for the Sox.