Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 5/29/12
The Texas Rangers are the front-runner as the Roy Oswalt sweepstakes steam toward a conclusion. Ownership approval, in fact, appears to be the only roadblock left for the Rangers, major-league sources say. The Rangers are over-budget; their $120.5 million Opening Day payroll ranked sixth in the majors. However, the team's average attendance has increased from 36,382 last season to 43,818 through 24 games -- second only to the Philadelphia Phillies. Oswalt, who lives in Weir, Miss., has long preferred to play for the Rangers or the contender closest to his farm in Missouri, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Rangers, who passed on Oswalt in spring training due to their surplus of starting pitchers, recently lost right-hander Neftali Feliz, creating an opening in their rotation. Oswalt, 34, likely will need about a month to get ready. He had a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts for the Phillies last season, but twice went on the disabled list with back trouble. The Rangers' interest stems in part from Oswalt's prior relationship with club president Nolan Ryan, and perhaps received a final push when the Los Angeles Angels lost right-hander Jered Weaver to an apparent back injury on Monday night. By signing Oswalt, the Rangers effectively would stage a preemptive strike on the Angels, preventing their principal division rival from acquiring the free-agent pitcher. The Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers also have shown interest in Oswalt. The Phillies are awaiting word on the condition of right-hander Roy Halladay's shoulder, and the Dodgers recently put lefty Ted Lilly on the disabled list with a shoulder injury.
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