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Rumor Mill: Oswalt to Reds?

As the Cardinals brace for the prospect of three rookies in the starting rotation for the forseeable future, talk out of Houston links the Reds to the Astros in a deal for disgruntled ace Roy Oswalt.

Oswalt asked last week for a trade and the potential landing spots are few and far between -- especially since Oswalt has a no-trade clause and wants to pitch for a contender, preferably in the southeast or midwest.

The Reds are geographically about as good as it's going to get for Oswalt to stay near his Mississippi home -- unless Atlanta has a pile of money stashed somewhere that no one knows about. Cincinnati, somewhat surprisingly fits the bill of being a contender, swapping first place in the National League Central with the Cardinals over the last week. But what about the money?

The Reds aren't exactly a big market club. But they do have a pair of pricey pacts -- those of Bronson Arroyo and Aaron Harang -- coming off the books after the 2010 season. So, if they could bite the bullet for four and a half months, the Reds' payroll would be better off than it is right now -- AND the team would have a leader in 2011 for it's crop of young pitchers.

The Cardinals, unfortunately, just can't make an Oswalt deal happen even though the pitcher reportedly said last year that St. Louis is one of just a handful of clubs that he would accept being traded to. Whether he's hurt or not, the Cardinals are stuck with Kyle Lohse for the next two years -- at an increased rate because it's a backloaded deal. Oswalt's got $19 million coming over the next two seasons and the Birds still have to be concerned about where they'd get the money to pay Albert Pujols if they can ink him to a contract extension.

Even if the Cardinals decided to bite the financial bullet and pay Oswalt, they really don't have the sort of prospects it would probably take to get him. They have a couple of nearly major league ready pitchers in Class AAA. But no one who is a can't miss prospect that would knock Houston's socks off.

Would Oswalt accept a deal to Cincinnati if one could be put together? I don't know. I think it is much more likely that he would be choosy about his destination now, possibly only accepting a deal to a powerhouse club and that he would be less discriminating as it gets closer to the trade deadline. At that point, all that's left is to play out one season and change and then become an unrestricted free agent at the end of 2011.