It’s rare to see a baseball club in full rebuild mode move a 23-year-old closer who has already established himself at the major league level.
But as Roberto Osuna continues to tear up the American League in his first full season in Houston, there is no dismay or sour feelings from a Blue Jays fan base that has been very critical of management under Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins.
Heading into last night’s game, Osuna had allowed just one baserunner over 12 appearances since April 5th and his prime fits directly with the window the Blue Jays have over the next six years or so with their plethora of top prospects slowly making their way to the majors.
So why is there no backlash from fans?
Well, it’s quite simple. Osuna was arrested and charged with assault in May 2018 and suspended 75 games by Major League Baseball for violating the MLB’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy. He was arrested by Toronto police under suspicion of assaulting a woman, but charges were dropped in September 2018 in favour of a plea deal.
While the Blue Jays don’t have a “zero tolerance” policy like the Astros, they made the right decision in moving him before playing another game in a Blue Jays uniform. In the acquisition of Osuna, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow claimed they didn’t break the “zero tolerance” rule because the situation took place prior to joining the club and because Osuna “will fully comply with our zero-tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind.”
Sigh (Luhnow has since said, “that’s one I’d like to have back,” in regards to the comments).
It is very difficult to criticize management on this one because of what took place, but the fact they were able to flip Osuna and receive value in return is tremendous.
Ken Giles has eight saves, good for fourth in the American League, one behind Osuna himself, and his 13.78 strikeouts per nine innings is the best among American League pitchers with at least five saves.
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Over 17 appearances he has an ERA of 1.65 and leftover 90 percent of runners on base while he’s only turning 29-years-old.
Perez is having a rough season in Double-A New Hampshire right now but is also seeing some of the highest strikeout rates in his career. He’s had issues with command as his walk rates are also at a career high, but the 22-year-old was the 10th-ranked prospect in the Astros organization before coming over to Toronto.
Paulino, who was also one of Houston’s top 30 prospects, has experience pitching in the big leagues. He’s appeared in 16 games over three seasons including an impressive 1.35 ERA over seven appearances last season with the Blue Jays. Through five starts in Buffalo, he’s had difficulties with his consistency start-to-start, allowing nine runs combined in two of his starts but only one run total in the other three.
Giles was clearly the main piece that made the Blue Jays pull the trigger and despite the longevity, they would have received from Osuna’s career, they haven’t really missed a beat in the closer’s role this season.
With the Blue Jays lack of pitching depth on the frontline and the backend right now, the acquisition of Giles is looking more and more impressive on the Jays end as it seems the club didn’t want Osuna pitching another inning in Toronto.
Some pro leagues see players that are charged in situations like this cut immediately from their team, but it seems baseball hasn’t picked up on this yet after Aroldis Chapman returned to the Yankees after serving a similar suspension in 2016 before ultimately being dealt to the Cubs.
The Blue Jays picked up a proven closer at the major league level with a World Series ring while also ridding themselves of a distraction who no longer seemed to be in the team’s future anyway.
Shapiro and Atkins struck a great deal here and as prospects slowly join the Blue Jays and the team becomes more competitive, Giles presence and solid work in the ninth inning will be even more appreciated.