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.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 30, 2018
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.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 30, 2018
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.
Giles' underlying numbers suggest he's been much better than his ERA indicates. He's striking out 9.1 per nine, walking 0.9 per nine, and allowing 0.6 homers per nine.
— Blue Jays Nation (@thejaysnation) July 30, 2018
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.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 30, 2018
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.
Astros are in town the last home series of the season: September 24-26. #BlueJays
— Jordan Davidson (@jordangeville) July 30, 2018
Osuna will likely make his return to Toronto at the end of September.