A difficult situation with Roberto Osuna keeps getting more complicated, and at this stage the Blue Jays are stuck in limbo until a few things play out.
In a seasonable full of frustration, there’s almost no disputing that what’s happened with Roberto Osuna is the lowlight thus far. In case you missed it somehow, the 23 year old was arrested back on May 8th, and through a long process with the league was finally suspended for 75 games, backdated to the day of his arrest.
He won’t return to the field until early August, but his name has resurfaced this week for a few reasons.
Unfortunately, while his fate with baseball has been decided for the most part, the legal proceedings could be far from over. In an article written by Rosie Dimanno of the Toronto Star, Osuna’s lawyer, Domenic Basile, painted a few different scenarios for how things could play out in the court system.
"The defence lawyer would not reveal specifically what alternatives are under discussion. But he noted there are really only three options: resolution, possibly by means of a peace bond; a trial, or pleading guilty. Osuna is adamant that he will not plead, according to Basile. – Rosie Dimanno, Toronto Star"
According to the rest of Dimanno’s piece, it sounds very much like Basile is going to do everything in his power to avoid a trial, which certainly makes sense in his role as the defence lawyer. He carefully defended his 23 year old client, and did his best to paint Osuna in the best possible light, both in regards to his potential innocence, and also moving forward after this process has played out.
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While there are a ton of variables to be worked out in this case, that won’t stop his career as a baseball player from resuming, at least for now. Despite the fact that his next hearing won’t happen until August 1st, Osuna is eligible to return just four days later. It’s hard to say if they’ll have much progress in the case by August either, so Osuna could realistically still be dealing with these issues after he’s returned to the 25 man roster.
In fact, he’s already actually eligible to return on a rehab stint in the minor leagues as early as this weekend. Through rules developed between the player’s association and the league, he’s allowed to essentially prepare for his scheduled return in the minors, despite the fact that he remains on the suspended list.
That fact forces the Blue Jays’ organization to address him sooner than they’d likely want to. In the early stages they already have, with positive words coming from the front office, and also the skipper, in support their young closer. In many ways they don’t have much choice but to say supportive words, for a variety of reasons.
If the club does choose to keep him around beyond this season, working with him through this situation will be key. It’ll be tremendously important for the franchise to show their fans that they take these scenarios very seriously, and that there is no perceived excusing of his alleged behaviour. On the other hand, just a few months ago Osuna would have represented one of the Blue Jays’ most valuable trade chips, so painting him in a negative light doesn’t help if they still want to go that route either. He also hasn’t been convicted yet, and while I have personal feelings on the subject, the Blue Jays can’t treat him as if he’s guilty, at least not yet.
Add in the timelines around the end of his suspension, and even more so the unresolved legal proceedings, and the club really has their hands tied at this moment. For now, they don’t have much choice but to let him return to their minor league system in preparation for the first week of August. They can’t exactly trade him either, and he won’t be eligible to return until after the non-waiver deadline. If he’s going to regain any of his lost value as a trade chip, he’s going to have to pitch for the Blue Jays again as well.
Regardless of how the organization decides to handle all of this, they really are stuck between a rock and a hard place.