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Roy Oswalt to the Nationals?

Could Roy Oswalt be traded to the....Nationals?

The Nationals are looking to improve their rotation and have expressed interest in trading for Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt, according to a baseball source.

The Nats have not confirmed that they have interest in the Astros' ace, and Oswalt's agent, Bob Garber, did not return a phone message Sunday.

If the Astros and Nationals can work out a deal, Oswalt, 32, and right-hander Stephen Strasburg would be a perfect 1-2 combination in the rotation. It's unknown what Houston would want in return for Oswalt.

But Washington has some obstacles when it comes to acquiring Oswalt's services. Although he requested to be dealt, he has a no-trade clause and is in the fourth year of a five-year, $73 million contract that will pay him $15 million in 2010 and $16 million next season.

The Nationals' 22-22 start is very encouraging to see especially in the pre-Strasburg era, but I'm sure many rolled their eyes when they saw this report that the Nationals were after Oswalt. But I think GM Mike Rizzo sees a genuine opportunity here. For a pitcher of Oswalt's caliber normally teams would have to give up top level prospects, which the Nationals should be hesitant to give up. But to acquire Oswalt, the Nationals might not have to give up top prospects if they decide to pick up the tab on Oswalt's salary. Remember that Oswalt is owed a whopping $31 million over the next two years, which would seem to make Oswalt difficult to move.

I imagine that the Astros are looking to acquire some top prospects in return for Oswalt given his stature and popularity in Houston, but if they are looking to dump as much salary as possible, then the Nationals should at least consider picking up the tab. Oswalt would be a great fit in DC, not just because of the impending arrival of Stephen Strasburg, but because he would add even more legitimacy to an organization that is on the upswing.