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Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Osuna apparently among the players the Jays are shopping

Roberto Osuna is set to return from his suspension from Major League Baseball on Aug. 5, and while the front office previously indicated that he will remain the team’s closer, it appears that might not be the case. According to reports from Jerry Crasnick and Ken Rosenthal, Osuna is among the players the Blue Jays are actively shopping prior to Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

Back in June, Ross Atkins made it clear that Osuna would be back with the team following the conclusion of the suspension he was handed by Major League Baseball.

“Roberto is our closer,” said Atkins. “We’re running a baseball team and our goal is to win championships. Roberto could potentially be very much a part of that. The word that comes to mind for me when you talk about that is empathy. That’s not just for Roberto, that’s for everyone involved, that’s where we’re going to spend our time and energy, on being empathetic and trying to understand. We don’t have a background in investigations.”

This quote doesn’t really mean anything. Is Atkins going to come out and actively say that the team badly wants to get rid of him because he’s a PR nightmare? Of course not. If the Jays want to get something of value in return for their young, controllable, All-Star closer, their general manager can’t come out and openly say that the organization is finished with him.

That said, it’s hard to imagine an Osuna trade during the season. While his suspension from MLB will be over and he’ll be eligible for the playoffs if traded before the end of August, Osuna still has a looming court case that could effect his ability to work (play) in the United States. Osuna’s next court date is scheduled for Aug. 1 and he intends to plead not guilty to his assault charge.

In comparison to the Aroldis Chapman situation, the Yankees dealt the closer to the Cubs back in 2016 while he was under investigation for domestic violence. That said, Chapman was set to become a free agent at the end of the season and the Cubs weren’t planning on keeping him around long-term. With Osuna, the team who acquires him will be making more of a long-term investment as he’s still controllable for three more years.

With that in mind, while Osuna would be a big get for a contending team like, say, the Astros who don’t really have a closer, it still makes more sense for a deal to be struck in the off-season when the results of his trial are known.

I think the Chapman situation makes it very clear that teams care more about the business of winning than they do PR ramifications, and, for lack of a better description, simply doing the right thing. Chapman netted the Yankees a massive haul of prospects, the Cubs shrugged at the backlash as he helped them win the World Series, and then the Yankees signed him again in the off-season, again shrugging off the heat.

I’m not sure that the Blue Jays, owned by a publicly traded telecommunications company (one that can easily be boycotted by angry fans), could pull off avoiding the backlash quite so easily, though it does seem inevitable they’ll do their best to make a decision that best helps them win baseball games in the future.

  • Steve-O

    I admit that I was one of many declaring Osuna’s time with Jays must come to an end. However, after listening to a truly excellent At The Letters podcast episode I’ve softened my position somewhat.

    I’m not completely on one side or the other with regards to keeping him or shipping him off anymore – I’m ambivalent, I honestly don’t know how I would react to seeing him back on the mound saving games for the Jays. And there are perfectly valid baseball reasons why trading him makes sense, apart from the obvious ethical and PR issues that come with keeping him.

    Anyway, I highly recommend listening to the ATL episode. Here’s the link: https://www.sportsnet.ca/podcasts/at-the-letters/july-9-academic-and-cultural-perspective-on-the-osuna-case/

    • Kristen Sprague

      I heard the podcast too and what struck me is that Osuna would have to apologize and give no excuses. Hard to do that when you are pleading not guilty. I think everything points to him being guilty and if that is so, then ship him off. The kid is dead to me

  • lukewarmwater

    Solid article Cam as you astutely point out this is indeed a very difficult situation for the Jays to handle with their ownership company having to think about the negative aspects that could hurt the financial line with boycotts etc. In the case of the Yankees and Cubs regarding Chapman, the private owners simply ignored his serious actions and thought mainly about winning. What bothers me is that I still believe in due process where you are actually innocent till proven guilty in a court of law. However we have seen so many cases of where innocent victims have been hung by the media and social media. Probably one of the most famous cases was the great organiser of the best Winter Olympics ever in Vancouver and Whistler in 2010. John Furlong went through years of hell trying to defend his reputation. Eventually the bogus case against him was dropped with the most grevious example of out right lying against him was one of the three so called victims didn’t even attend the school where he was accused of misconduct.
    Finally John felt he could get on with his life and simply refused to counter sue and have to go through lawyers and another couple of years.
    Now John graciously donated his time to speak at a major fund raiser at my old alma mater U.B.C. to help raise funds for the athletic department.
    One absolute wing nut put in a complaint and the president of U.B.C. decided to cancel the fund raising event. Fortunately alumni such as myself and hundreds others let the president know that the funding for the University from the alumni WOULD STOP. Fortunately this poor soul president came to his senses and John raised half a million for athletic programs at U.B.C.
    I wish Roberto all the best in the future and unfortunately the youngest player to ever record 100 saves will not fetch back to the Jays what he truly is worth.
    I don’t often agree with Rogers but as I stated if he is found guilty in the court of the law and not the court of social media and media , they truly have no choice but to ship him out.

  • Mose

    I hope for Osuna and the sake of his family, he’s recognized the massive error of his ways and is both remorseful and is taking tangible steps in his life to avoid this unacceptable behavior in the future.

    Because he is a “kid”, if Osuna IS showing remorse AND is making tangible strides to become a better man, it would be a shame for me to see the Jays give up on him.

    If Osuna hasn’t recognized and taken ownership for his unacceptable behavior, and isn’t interested in getting better, I fully support the Jays moving on while asset managing Osuna for the long-term benefit of the team.

  • Free Osuna

    I haven’t heard any mention to this point of the mental illness struggles that Bobby-O combated last season. He was a hero at the time for speaking out about his troubles with anxiety, and while I wouldn’t expect total vindication, might that act as a mitigating factor under this circumstance?

    I can only speculate as to whether these challenges played any role in the incident this spring, as mental illness attacks everyone differently. The truth is I don’t know. None of us really know. It is up to the courts to make that determination, and that’s why I’m so disappointed in this organization for bending to bleeding hearts and public opinion, from those who just, don’t, know.

    • Magicaleigh

      Again, he was suspended by MLB after their own internal investigation, one with which Osuna fully participated, a ruling he accepted. The media and bleeding hearts didn’t hand out the harshest domestic violence suspension MLB has ever given out, MLB and the Blue Jays did.

      • Free Osuna

        While I would suggest the current social temperature towards these issues influence the severity of the sentence, both the player and the team accepted the suspension.

        I’m fishing for a creative way to say he he did the crime and paid his time. Whether 75 games or 200, once you’ve served your time I would think you should be able to resume your job.

        It’s not the suspension I’m disputing, but the stance that he shouldn’t have been allowed to return. It’s a lot to ask of the general public to understand that they don’t have all the details, but I would have liked more from this organization in the case of a 23 year old with well such documented trials in his past.

    • Mose

      Wise point. Like you, I know for 100% certain that I don’t know all the facts or perceptions the Jays brass are dealing with.

      I do feel for the young man and hopefully this is a chance for him to get his life and mental health back on track.

  • Mose

    Wise point. Like you, I know for 100% certain that I don’t know all the facts or perceptions the Jays brass are dealing with.

    I do feel for the young man and hopefully this is a chance for him to get his life and mental health back on track.