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Oswalt putting Astros before contract

Oswalt putting Astros before contract

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LAS VEGAS -- Roy Oswalt's contract is up after the 2011 season, and he hopes he'll have a World Series ring before it's time to decide whether to retire or keep playing.

It would be a stretch to say that the current rotation is good enough to lead this club to a World Series as early as 2009, but Oswalt is willing to pitch in a bit if it means speeding up the process.

The three-time All-Star said on Wednesday he would be willing to renegotiate his contract if it meant clearing payroll space for the Astros to bring in another quality arm.

"If they came to me to change my contract to get a front-line starter, I would work with them to free up some money to help the Astros," Oswalt said.

Oswalt expressed his feelings toward general manager Ed Wade while acknowledging the Astros have not asked him to renegotiate. Wade declined to elaborate on the situation, preferring to keep the conversations in-house.

"Any kind of discussion of that nature would be strictly an internal conversation," Wade said.

The projected 2009 Astros rotation consists of Oswalt, Mike Hampton, Wandy Rodriguez, Brandon Backe and Brian Moehler. The Astros would like to add a starter to the mix, but finances may prevent them from doing so. Their payroll currently stands somewhere between $115 and $120 million, far above the $100 million threshold set by club owner Drayton McLane. Whispers around the Bellagio hotel suggest McLane may have lowered the limit to $95 million.

The Astros have $60 million committed to four players in '09 -- Lance Berkman ($14 million), Miguel Tejada ($13 million), Carlos Lee ($18.5 million) and Oswalt ($14 million).

Oswalt, who signed a five-year extension in 2006 with an option year for 2012, is due to make $15 million in 2010 and $16 million in 2011. Restructuring contracts is a tricky practice, because in most cases, if not all, the Players Association will not allow a player to accept less than the contract is worth.

Alyson Footer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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