The Toronto Blue Jays sent Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros for Ken Giles and pitching prospects David Paulino and Hector Perez on Monday afternoon. On paper, that was the transaction; but it goes far beyond one-for-three player deal.
There are no winners in this trade.
As Osuna’s status loomed like a black cloud over the Blue Jays organization and as the non-waiver trade deadline approached, the team felt this was the time to trade him.
Source: #BlueJays decided earlier this season that Roberto Osuna would not pitch for them again at @MLB level following the domestic violence incident. Blue Jays ownership and management decided to make the best trade they could. This was it. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 30, 2018
It may have been a baseball decision – it may have been a philosophical decision – but at the end of it all, Osuna is no longer a Blue Jay.
He’s still serving his 75-game suspension levied by Major League Baseball, which expires this Saturday. Further complicating the matter, Osuna has an unsettled court case in Toronto on Wednesday, which could potentially impact his return date to the Astros.
Not much is known publicly about Osuna’s charges, but this much is true; his acceptance of a 75-game suspension by MLB is an admission of guilt, to some degree. Leagues don’t suspend players for half of the season without just cause. MLB conducted an independent investigation and had good reason to serve Osuna a suspension.
In most cases, when MLB players are charged with domestic assault, they’re either removed from the roster altogether or traded shortly thereafter. Back in late 2015, the Cincinnati Reds traded their closer Aroldis Chapman not long after learning of an alleged domestic violence incident. In 2016, the Colorado Rockies designated Jose Reyes for assignment soon after he served his suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy.
Also in 2016, Hector Olivera of the Atlanta Braves was arrested by police after a domestic dispute. Just prior to the completion of his 82-game suspension, Olivera was traded from the Braves to the San Diego Padres, who then designated him for assignment. He was essentially blacklisted from Major League Baseball and hasn’t been heard from since.
In instances like this, there is no “turning the page” or “moving on” when the player is still within the organization. The only way to move forward is without the player on the roster, which is what the Blue Jays have done with Osuna. He’ll suffer the consequences and has to live with what he did; the Blue Jays will not.
This is an incredibly risky and controversial move by the Astros; not only do they acquire a player whose status is in limbo, they also bring in a player with a tremendous amount of baggage.
The defending World Series champions just added one of the best closers in baseball … but at what cost? What message does that send not only to the fans, but also the players in the clubhouse? At what point does associating an organization with a player of Osuna’s ilk do more harm than good?
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) July 30, 2018
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said the team has a “zero tolerance policy”, which conveniently only applies to incidents for players currently in an Astros uniform – not players like Osuna who were charged in the past.
He couldn’t come back
The truth is, the Blue Jays couldn’t continue with Osuna on their team. Whether it was this year’s trade deadline or this coming offseason, the Jays in good faith couldn’t keep him around anymore. No matter how talented the player is, any self-respecting organization shouldn’t employ someone who was charged with domestic assault or any crime of that nature.
If the Blue Jays wanted to send a message and act purely on principle, they could’ve cut ties with Osuna once the results arose from his court hearing. However, the organization played it off as though he would return as the team’s closer and everything would return to status quo.
Clearly, it wasn’t.
What happens in front of TV cameras and microphones often doesn’t mirror what’s going on behind the scenes. In reality, the Blue Jays front office was working to distance themselves from Osuna by trading him elsewhere.
In a no-win situation, where nobody emerges feeling good about anything, this was the only move the Jays could make.
The #BlueJays have now been shopping closer Roberto Osuna for weeks to no avail, with clubs adamantly shying away from him knowing the severity of his 78-game domestic violence penalty, and the fear of the unknown
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 30, 2018
In return, the Blue Jays received the Astros’ much-maligned closer in Giles. He was demoted to triple-A in mid-July after a very public spat on the mound with his manager, A.J. Hinch. Soon thereafter, Giles found himself in the minors with the Fresno Grizzlies and has been deserted there ever since.
These are two completely different circumstances, but two situations where each team felt like they couldn’t proceed any further with their young closer.
The Blue Jays have moved on from Osuna. Coming to this decision wasn’t easy, but it was necessary for the Blue Jays organization. Whether they were waiting for the right offer, they genuinely wanted to do the right thing, or the rationale for the trade laid somewhere in the middle, Osuna had to go.
In the long run, for the image of this organization and for their own conscience, it’s better that Osuna isn’t a Blue Jay anymore.