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On Wednesday, the Phillies did not offer right-handed starter Roy Oswalt arbitration. The decision ensured Oswalt will be a more valuable commodity on the free agent market and could have a possible effect on the Nationals.

Since Oswalt is a Type A free agent, the Phillies would have received a first-round draft pick from the team that signed Oswalt had they offered him arbitration. But Philadelphia decided it did not want to risk paying Oswalt the one-year salary it would have owed him — about $17 million — if he accepted an arbitration offer. And so now, the team that signs Oswalt will not lose any draft choices.

All of that is pertinent to the Nationals because we know they’re a potential suitor for Oswalt. The Nationals’ No. 1 target in free agency is left-hander Mark Buehrle , who is a Type B free agent and therefore never carried the risk of costing a draft pick. (The White Sox did offer him arbitration, and he declined.)

But if they cannot sign Buehrle, who is coveted by a fistful of clubs, the Nationals will turn their sights on Oswalt. And Oswalt became far more palatable to sign now that the Nationals know they can add him without losing a first-round draft choice.