Photo Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Roberto Osuna traded to the Astros

Well this has certainly been a rollercoaster. It was reported this morning that the Blue Jays were shopping Roberto Osuna, who’s scheduled to return from his suspension in about a week, but, soon after that, it was also reported that the Jays were having no luck moving their former All-Star closer.

Enter the Houston Astros.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Astros have acquired Osuna to replace the enigmatic, struggling righty Ken Giles in the closer role. Giles currently sports at a 4.99 ERA, spazzed out at AJ Hinch, and subsequently got optioned to Triple-A.

Aaaaaaand just as I’m talking about how big of a disaster Giles has been, Rosenthal reports that he is, in fact, coming back to Toronto as part of the return.

Giles is an interesting case. He, much like Osuna, broke into the league as a young closer and saw immediate success. He was drafted by the Phillies in 2011 and cracked the team in 2014, putting up a dominant season in which he tossed 45 2/3 innings with a 1.18 ERA. He became the team’s closer the following season and posted a 1.80 ERA over 69 games.

Since the team sucked ass and didn’t really need a closer, the Phillies figured it was sensible to sell high. The Astros paid a crazy price to acquire what they figured to be their closer of the future just as their contention window was opening. They dealt former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel, stud prospect Vince Velasquez, and more to acquire Giles. He had a rough first season, but found his footing in 2017 and played a key role in the team’s World Series season, though he was junk in the playoffs and lost his closer role.

As I pointed out on Twitter, Giles has had a strange 2018 season. He got demoted to Triple-A and has a terrible ERA, but his peripherals suggest he really hasn’t been that bad. I know FIP is a flawed stat and this and that, but his 2.28 FIP is better than his 2.39 FIP he posted during his supposedly-very-solid 2017 campaign.

Giles is controllable for three more seasons and is arbitration eligible this winter. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s in the team’s long-term plans of if they view him as a buy-low-and-flip candidate given his solid underlying numbers and potential for a rebound.

And here’s the full trade.

Hector Perez is a 22-year-old righty pitcher with a 3.84 ERA in High-A ball. MLB Pipeline ranks him Houston’s No. 10 prospect.

Since landing a modest $45,000 bonus at the relatively advanced age of 18 out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, Perez has emerged as one of the best arms in the Astros system. He came straight to the United States for his 2015 pro debut and earned rapid promotions in each of his first three pro seasons. His control lapsed last year but he still recorded a 3.44 ERA at two Class A stops because he was able to overpower hitters.

Perez can blow his fastball by hitters, ranging from 93-99 mph with two-seamers with nice sink and four-seamers with explosive riding life. He also can produce wipeout breaking stuff when he’s on, though there are times when he can’t find the strike zone with his slider or curveball. He uses a splitter as a changeup, and it likewise can elicit swings and misses or avoid the plate.

Opponents struggle to make solid contact against Perez, who has four pitches that can grade as plus or better but lose effectiveness when he can’t tame them. He’s athletic enough to figure out control and command, but his delivery has timing issues that have prevented him from ever throwing consistent strikes. His walk rate jumped from 4.5 per nine innings in his first two seasons to 6.5 in his third, a sign that he’s more likely to become a late-inning reliever than a frontline starter. – MLB Pipeline

David Paulino is a 24-year-old righty pitcher who has pitched in the big leagues in 2016 and 2017. MLB Pipeline ranks him Houston’s No. 23 prospect.

Houston has made a habit out of plucking big league arms out of Rookie ball in trades, with Francis Martes, Joe Musgrove and Paulino all examples. Paulino needed Tommy John surgery when the Astros asked for him as part of a Jose Veras deal with the Tigers in mid-2013, but they still were attracted to his quick arm and tall body. He has one of the highest ceilings in the system, but he’s also its most frustrating prospect because he totaled just 246 1/3 innings in his first eight pro seasons and drew an 80-game suspension last July after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Paulino has the raw ingredients to become a successful starting pitcher. His fastball has gone from the mid-80s when he signed for $75,000 to 91-95 mph now, peaking at 98, with a lot of downhill plane generated by his 6-foot-7 frame. He has a power breaking ball that he can turn into a curveball (which can be a hammer at times) or a harder, though less consistent, slider, and his changeup also has its moments as a plus pitch.

Paulino fills the strike zone too, though big leaguers have taken advantage of the fact that his command isn’t as sharp as his control. His velocity was down in 2017, though that likely was related to the bone spurs he had removed from his elbow in September. He had his elbow reconstructed in 2014 and had tendinitis in the joint in 2016, and he has yet to show any evidence of durability. – MLB Pipeline

Considering everything, I think this is a nice piece of work by the Blue Jays. Moving on from Osuna, despite those who think you’re a bleeding heart for taking domestic violence seriously believe, was a necessary step for the organization. The organization managed to avoid trotting him back out on the field and alienating a good chunk of their fanbase and, in return, still managed to net themselves some value.

Osuna will likely make his return to Toronto at the end of September.

  • 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.

    • The Humungus

      I suffer from anxiety so bad it’s prevented me from driving to work.

      I still wouldn’t want a guilty Osuna on my favourite team, nor would I give him any quarter for his anxiety being a mitigating factor. I’ve never beat my wife or kids because of it.

      • Free Osuna

        I’m glad you’ve managed, but I’d expect you wouldn’t ask that all mental illness be painted with a single brush. This calls back to the fact that we only know as much as has been reported, and this players future should not have fallen under the jurisdiction of the court of public opinion.

    • Dexxter

      Don’t really know if I’d call this bending to bleeding hearts. Not naive about how the charges impacted the teams thinking…. but there was lots of talk in the off season about a potential Osuna trade.

      Jays got another closer with the same control and similar career numbers and a couple prospects too. Perez especially looks like a legit prospect with a 50FV who MLB.comhss already slotted in just AHEAD of Borucki I’m the Jays prospect rankings.

      Plus Giles makes $700k less than Osuna this year and looks like he won’t get as much of an arb bump. Wth the way arb salaries work this could save the Jays a few million in payroll over the next three years…. potentially without a drop off in production.

      • Free Osuna

        I think you make a good point, the return today was much stronger than I’d expected given whats gone on this summer.
        I can’t help but wonder what last year’s return might have looked like, given it was clear that the Jays wanted to unload this player in the next thirty or so hours. But in the same breath, the Astros need for a closer was much less apparent this time last year.
        Giles has shone before, I expect he’ll shine again. I hope the Astros help Bobby-O clean up and reach his full potential, and I’m saddened that the Jays chose not to.

    • Sovtechno

      I don’t get what the courts have to do with this. Regardless of what happens in the courts, he violated MLB policy. Many factors outside of the crime itself will impact the verdict and sentence. What if she drops the charges? It doesn’t suddenly make him innocent. That is why MLB has to conduct their own investigation and draw their own conclusions.

      • Free Osuna

        The MLB did make their own determination, and the player served the suspension as rendered.
        According to MLB Network, the Jays had made up their minds that he would not pitch for them again, and this is where my problem lies.
        This was a great opportunity to work with a young man to address his issues and potentially have an impact. The people done the greatest disservice by this trade are those who are most outspoken regarding domestic violence, as this serves to sweep this incident away with a sort of “out of sight, out of mind” approach.

      • Free Osuna

        If we hold him in high regard for all that he overcame through his impoverished youth in Mexico, and for his eye popping talent, and for battling his ongoing personal demons, it seems a stretch for me to condemn him over an incident which we’ve yet to be made privy to. I’ll concede that he may yet turn out a villain, but I wish we could afford him the same reasonable doubt we’d expect for ourselves.

      • Free Osuna

        Would you buy a car off me because I told you it was a car, or might you want further details? “Car” is an all encompassing term, you might feel the need to know the make, the model, year, mileage, colour, accident history, etc.
        Similarly, domestic violence is a sweeping and all encompassing term, and in this case, you’ve purchased at face value.

        I know that the athlete has been charged with domestic violence and served his assigned suspension. That’s about the extent of my knowledge. Not acceptable. And if further details come to light that reveal the accuseds actions to be as horrendous as many are so eager to assume, I’ll line up alongside you to condemn him. But for now, I’m neither buying your car nor accepting this young man as unworthy of further consideration or of a second chance.

  • TGreg

    Solid return. Giles is only 27 and as pointed out has decent peripherals even this year. Hopefully the change of scenery helps him reset. And two high upside pitchers to go along – granted each has risk, but you gotta take a shot on a few guys like these.

  • Jroc

    I can’t imagine they would have gotten much more in the off-season, I was kind of hoping to just get a teams top pitching prospect but this looks like a solid return.

  • Jeff2sayshi

    Taking all the politics out of this for now:
    I’m not sold on the trade, and I think giving up someone like Osuna, who very much fits the next timeline for somebody who MIGHT be as good (in Giles) seems foolish. Osuna seemed better from a command perspective and variety of pitches. Giles is reliant on pure velocity.

    • luigi vampa

      You get an approximation of Osuna with similar years of control plus 2 higher ceiling pitching prospects which you decided to omit that part of the equation. Doesn’t seem too foolish at all. Giles has established excellent command this year too (0.9 BB/9) but appears to have been babip’d (.366) about more than anything.

      • Jeff2sayshi

        I’m not ignoring the prospects. I’m taking into account that one is having trouble in high A ball, and that the other is 24, and is on the fringe of still being considered a prospect.

        Having a low BB/9 can easily go hand in hand with a high BABIP. a high BABIP would also imply people are seeing the ball well and putting it in play instead of waiting for the walks.

        • Dexxter

          Except he’s never had a BABIP like this before. He’s pitched all of 30 innings this year…. With a FIP in line with his career average and a better BB/9 rate then he’s ever had.

          Astros are a playoff team that doesn’t have time to be patient with him. Jays can be. Everything points to him being a great bounce back player.

      • abigditka

        I mean we traded an allstar closer for a guy who punches himself in the face and fights with his catcher. Replace one problem in the clubhouse with another.

  • abigditka

    Taking back a guy like Giles is why this team will continue to struggle through mediocrity. Instead of ditching Osuna and signing a legit closer next year we bring a mentally unstable closer, who fights with teammates and punches himself in the face. Not exactly the mental makeup you look for in a closer. We fill holes with guys like Drury, Solarte, Diaz, Kendrys and Garcia ffs While Yanks, Boston, Houston bring in legit talent.

    • Steve-O

      the alternative was to just release him and get nothing. The Jays managed to get a closer that could recoup his value and then potentially get flipped at next year’s deadline for something else.

      This was a good trade.

      As for the rest of your comment: 1. Drury was slated to be the Yankees starting 3B at the beginning of the season until he was Wally Pipped by an injury LOL, what are you even talking about? 2. Solarte and Diaz were depth pieces meant to back up behind Dosh, Tulo and Travis. 3. Ok, Garcia and Morales certainly haven’t panned out, but I’m sure the Yanks, Boston and Houston have never whiffed on FA additions… oh no that’s right they, like every other team in baseball, sometimes miss too.

  • Steve-O

    I’ve come full circle on this. From initially wanting him gone, to rethinking my position following an excellent ATL podcast on the subject. Now I’ve come back around to being happy he’s gone, after it was pointed out to me yesterday that to make amends one needs to accept full responsibility (and not enter a plea of ‘Not Guilty’ in court, as Osuna has since done).

    I think Jeff Passan nails why the whole thing leaves such a bad taste in my mouth:


    “The disgusting, abhorrent ones about what happened the night Toronto Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna was arrested and charged with domestic assault. He heard about the brutality Osuna allegedly inflicted. About the picture of the victim’s face that police officers in Toronto still talk about. He heard the details that have circulated around the game for months, details that prosecutors in Canada have not confirmed but are so ugly, so off-putting that anyone with a conscience could not, in good faith, place him on a major league roster.”

    I hope his victim makes a full recovery, that Osuna gets the help he needs, and that he spends the rest of his life making up for what he did, but I’m glad he’s not doing it as a player on my favourite baseball team.

  • lukewarmwater

    Obviously from day one Rogers realised that there was no way that Osuna would ever pitch for the Jays again. However they also knew that certain teams such as the Cubs, Yankees don’t seem to sadly have a problem with adding a domestic violator to their team as these two teams swapped the Flame throwing Chapman as the Cubs won a world series and the Yankees got some top prospects and then resigned Chapman.
    Now we have the owners of the world champion Astros showing their true colours as they trade for Osuna despite the vociferous complaints of some Astros including the great Verlander who tore apart an Astro prospect who was released by the Astros after a serious domestic incident.
    It appears the Astros will have a confessional in which the players will judge how sincere Osuna is about seeking help and doing penance for his actions. Yep the Yankees, Cubs, Astros are not alone in winning at all costs as has been illustrated by some of the thugs who have been in the N.F.L. who were either drafted by a team knowing of the youngsters record of unacceptable behaviour, HELLO PATRIOTS or trade for a guy who should have been kicked out of the league.
    The old philosophy of winning is everything truly applies to these owners.