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Red Sox become favorites for Oswalt

A pair of Cardinals likely snuffed out the last chance that Roy Oswalt ends up playing in St. Louis during the 2012 season.

The Red Sox on Saturday traded middle infielder Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for former Redbirds righthander Clayton Mortensen. That move will free Boston of $6 million worth of payroll obligations for the upcoming campaign which should allow the Red Sox to be able to afford Oswalt's $8 million asking price for a one-year deal.

The deal was made possibly by Boston's free agent pick-up earlier this off-season of former St. Louis utility player Nick Punto.

The Rangers were considered to be the favorites to land Oswalt until a few days ago when Texas landed Japanese starter Yu Darvish shortly before their negotiating window closed. The Rangers are said to be over budget for 2012, so it seems unlikely that they'll be able to pony up for Oswalt.

The Cardinals are near the top of their budget. The only way Oswalt was going to end up here was if he took considerably less than his asking price -- unless the Cardinals suddenly found a deal to trade Jake Westbrook. And that doesn't look like it's going to happen.