Astros general manager Ed Wade acknowledged in May that the agent for Oswalt had called owner Drayton McLane and asked him to trade Oswalt to a contender. Oswalt would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to a team of his choosing, but Wade won't confirm if the club is interested in dealing the three-time All-Star.
Houston has been at or near the bottom of the National League Central standings all season and could be looking to move pieces in exchange for prospects.
Starting pitcher Brett Myers, who pitched into at least the sixth inning in each of his first 15 starts, could also be used as trade bait. First baseman Lance Berkman has said he would waive his no-trade clause if the situation was right, but it's less likely he will be dealt.
"We'll obviously pay attention to what's taking place to see if there's opportunities to improve the club," Wade said. "Being a buyer or seller or those types of things -- those are words or phrases that really don't mean anything. We will go about our business the way we always do. If anything looks like it has legs to it, we'll follow through on it."
Oswalt went 5-9 with a 3.08 ERA this year in his first 15 starts, 13 of which were quality starts. He's lost three tight games to San Francisco's Tim Lincecum and has also been outdueled by Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay in what, other than wins and losses, has been an All-Star-caliber season.
"This is the best I've ever felt, as far as the first half of a season," said Oswalt, who's pitched much better in the second half in his career (70-22, 2.61 ERA).
Trying to find a trading partner for Oswalt could be tough, considering he's owed the remainder of his $15 million salary this year, will be make $16 million next year -- and his desire to be dealt to a contender. Also, the Astros would want some high-profile prospects in return.
Myers, who signed a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2011 that's worth a guaranteed $5.1 million, could be easier to be deal because of his contract situation. He has postseason experience and has been a huge boost to the Astros' rotation this year.
The Astros are typically hesitant to admit they're rebuilding, but they could certainly use some prospects in the upper levels of the Minor League system. The club recently promoted top prospect Jason Castro, who was drafted No. 10 overall in 2008, and made him the starting catcher. In addition, rookie Chris Johnson has been anointed as the starter at third base.
Wade, who has a policy not to publicly disclose specific trades, said he's already had preliminary discussions with all teams about possible deals.
"It's what the calendar dictates at this point in the season," he said. "You're getting closer to July 31 and want to make sure that, if there are things on the near horizon that make sense, you're aware of them, while at the same time preparing for whatever might develop between now and the end of July."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.