Astros Trade for Elite Closer Currently Suspended for Domestic Violence

Roberto Osuna made his major-league debut in 2015. Since then, among all relievers with at least 100 innings, he ranks in the 88th percentile in park-adjusted ERA. Even better, he ranks in the 95th percentile in park-adjusted FIP, and he ranks in the 95th percentile in strikeout-minus-walk rate. For the most part, when Osuna has been able to pitch, he’s been very, very good, and he’s blossomed into one of the game’s better closers. It’s just that he hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 6. Not because of an injury — Osuna’s arm, presumably, is just fine. Rather, he’s currently serving out a 75-game suspension for domestic violence. He’s eligible to return this coming weekend.

The Astros want for Osuna to return wearing their uniform. And so Monday has brought news of a trade.

Astros get:

  • Roberto Osuna

Blue Jays get:

The Astros are trying to repeat as World Series champions, and they identified an opportunity to land a cost-controlled, elite young reliever. Osuna’s controlled another two years after this one. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, identified an opportunity to buy low on a cost-controlled, potentially elite reliever. Giles is also controlled another two years after this one. Paulino and Perez, as well, are intriguing power-armed prospects. As a baseball trade, there’s enough here to be fascinating. But this isn’t just a baseball trade.

The Astros have an organizational reputation for being overwhelmingly, almost over-the-top analytical. That reputation is entirely warranted. From top to bottom, the Astros are a juggernaut, in terms of performance and in terms of player development, and a major reason behind their success is that they’re just so damned calculating. They tend not to get sidetracked by feelings — they play the probabilities, almost all of the time, and they already have one title to show for their philosophy. In more ways than I can count, the Astros are the envy of several other clubs. I’m sure they’ve already figured out that Osuna is likely to be a net positive. Giles’ time with Houston was clearly up.

I can’t even sit here and say the Astros are wrong. They’re probably right; Osuna will probably come back and pitch well, and he’ll probably be accepted by many of his new fans and teammates. Some of those teammates might require an explanation, but under the circumstances, there’s a strong inclination to forgive. To overlook, at the very least, or to allow a fresh beginning. Chicago didn’t celebrate any less hard when Aroldis Chapman and the Cubs won their own World Series. In professional sports, winning is the priority. That’s been demonstrated time and time again. It’s exactly why I’m surprised that Luke Heimlich doesn’t yet have a contract. I think we’re all used to seeing teams do what they need to do to try to maximize their success.

Objectively speaking, Osuna should make the Astros better on the field. He’ll strengthen a bullpen that hasn’t been as strong as the rest of the Astros’ components. They love that they’ll have him for multiple years. Importantly, I should note I don’t think the Astros are the only club that would’ve been willing to pick Osuna up. Some teams ruled themselves out, but I’m sure it wasn’t all of them. The Astros, you could say, simply won the sweepstakes. It’s also important to say that people can earn forgiveness. Osuna could take meaningful steps to demonstrate how he’s grown and changed as a person. He could sincerely express his remorse, and he could devote his time to supporting helpful organizations and initiatives. Osuna’s career needn’t be over at the age of 23. Not if he grows, not if he understands how his actions have caused so much hurt.

That all being said — that all being said — this is an acquisition that leaves a sour taste for anyone who thinks beyond the standings. The Astros might not lose many games because of Osuna. The Astros might not lose many *fans* because of Osuna. A lot of people, though, are paying attention. I’m not qualified to speak with authority to the matter of women feeling welcome as baseball fans, but little good is accomplished when forgiveness for domestic violence is granted so swiftly. This isn’t just about Osuna getting a second chance. It’s just as much about the timing.

As mentioned earlier, Roberto Osuna is still suspended. Right now, he is still serving out his 75-game suspension. I know he hasn’t been found guilty of anything in a court — his court date is still coming up. But baseball conducts its own investigations into these matters, as is its negotiated right, and in the case of Osuna, MLB saw reason to issue what was at the time its second-longest suspension under the domestic-violence policy. MLB figured Osuna deserved a severe punishment. The investigation was into an incident that happened in the early morning of May 8. It is currently July 30. It has been, for Osuna, about 12 weeks. No matter what you believe about second chances, it’s virtually impossible to believe someone could earn one in under three months. It would be one thing for the Blue Jays to give Osuna an opportunity to grow. They already employed him. The Astros went out of their way to pick Osuna up, even having the gall to cite a zero-tolerance policy that obviously doesn’t apply to someone who wasn’t yet wearing the uniform.

What makes it all the more, I don’t know, cavalier is that the Astros didn’t have to do this. The Astros didn’t face a decision between Osuna and no one. The trade market has been overflowing with relievers. It still is! Maybe none of those relievers are exactly on the same level as Osuna, but some of them come awfully close, and none of them are currently serving out a domestic-violence suspension. The Astros could trade for, say, Kelvin Herrera. They could’ve traded for Joakim Soria or Zach Britton. They could’ve paid for Brad Hand. They could get Ryan Tepera or Kirby Yates or Craig Stammen or so on and so forth. The whole industry figured the Jeurys Familia return was too cheap. Where were the Astros on that one? (Note that Familia was also suspended under the domestic-violence policy in 2017, for 15 games.) Osuna, the pitcher, is very good, assuming he is what he was. He is not the only very good reliever. And, frankly, the Astros already had plenty of good relievers anyhow. This is something the Astros sought out. They know full well that Osuna’s suspended for dreadful behavior, and by getting him now, the message is that winning trumps everything else. Even for a team with genuinely the least reason to be desperate to win.

I’ve seen it argued the Astros had to do anything they could to be rid of Giles. Giles has been pitching in Triple-A, thanks to a couple of major-league blow-ups. Especially after the way the playoffs went last year, it seemed like it was time for both parties to split, but I know for a fact this wasn’t the only Giles trade available. The Astros had the chance to trade Giles in a different move, for different talent. They opted for Osuna, and they gave still more pitching up. Not that it would be a good justification anyway, but you can’t even say the Astros are paying pennies on the dollar. Giles, for all his troubles, has 31 strikeouts and three walks this year in 30.2 big-league innings. Paulino is a 24-year-old former good prospect with a big arm and high-minors strikeouts. Perez was rated the Astros’ No. 5 prospect in February, and he’s a 22-year-old who’s trimmed his walk rates. The Blue Jays come out of this looking pretty good — maybe they didn’t get to trade a player at peak value, but in return for a credibly accused abuser still serving a suspension, they got three pitchers who could reach the bigs in short order. Osuna has a career ERA- of 67, and an FIP- of 62. Giles has a career ERA- of 67, and an FIP- of 54.

You get into weird and muddy territory when you start talking about which major-league organizations might occupy the moral high ground. None of them are charities; none of them are beyond reproach. These are businesses, making business decisions, and just as the Blue Jays made the business decision they’ll be better off without Osuna, the Astros made the business decision they’ll be better off with him. Honestly, I assume they’re right. Osuna helps the bullpen. The bullpen helps the team. Many fans don’t want to think about anything beyond the basics. They see sports as an entertaining distraction from everything else. You’re happy about wins and you’re annoyed about losses. It’s never any more complicated than that.

For the fans for whom it is more complicated, the Astros today have scored an own goal. They made a trade they didn’t need to make for a player still looking ahead to a court date. The Astros know exactly what they’re doing. That’s kind of what makes this so difficult to stomach.

We hoped you liked reading Astros Trade for Elite Closer Currently Suspended for Domestic Violence by Jeff Sullivan!

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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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nktokyo
Member
nktokyo

A racist first baseman and now a closer who assaults women. From a fan perspective I’ll be neutral in the playoffs… but it’s hard not to root against the Astros when they play. How do you sit there with your kids and explain this stuff?

abgb123
Member
abgb123

I would suggest you explain to your kids that they are just baseball players not superheros and they make the same mistakes as everyone else and they shouldn’t be defined by their mistakes but perhaps what they took out of it, I’m suggesting that parents actually do the parenting of their children and allow athletes to play the games.

EonADS
Member
EonADS

That’s… really poor parenting. Assaulting a domestic partner isn’t just some “mistake” that you can brush off, which is what young kids would equate that word to.

abgb123
Member
abgb123

See and this is whats wrong with the internet, you take a simple word in a statement remove all the context and then chastise a person based on that.
You just told me that its bad parenting to teach your children forgiveness and that its bad to suggest that athletes aren’t hero’s, I’m a bad parent for being a parent. It wasn’t a simple mistake and I didn’t at all word it that way, would it make you feel better if I had added the word gross in front of mistake or horrendous or disgusting? Pick your favorite adjective and I would agree, it’s bad parenting to teach your children that a person is defined only by that (fav adjective) mistake.

Jetsy Extrano
Member
Jetsy Extrano

Quote: “they make the same mistakes as everyone else”: implies that Osuna’s apparent behavior is no worse than what everyone else does.

Tea_Wreck
Member
Tea_Wreck

Explaining domestic abuse as a “mistake” is not good. Explaining that people have a public, private, and inner life are certainly topics children should learn. Heck, even in early grade school they’re going to start noticing that their friends do not always act the same way with the same people. If you’ve ever ever had to explain to a crying child why their best friend suddenly turned mean on them then explaining that professional athletes are not always great and inspirational people is easy.

Honestly, I often think that people going “How can I ever explain this to my child!?!?!” are usually childless and just acting like Helen Lovejoy. I mean, if you can’t manage the tee-ball-level challenge of “famous person acted horribly” then you’re going to really have a hard time when the stakes get ratcheted up.

Momus
Member
Momus

@abgb123 — Well, it’s not like he just cherry-picked your use of the word “mistake” completely out of context.

You refer to assaulting a loved one as a “mistake” – it’s quite a bit more than a mere mistake. I’ve made mistakes in my life, and I’ve gotten very angry, but I’ve also managed to never physically attack any of my loved ones. I’d say that’s pretty normal for most people. Characterizing that behavior as a mere “mistake” downplays just how serious and dysfunctional it really is.

You say a person shouldn’t be defined by their mistakes. Ever? What if a person makes the same “mistake” over and over? What if their “mistake” was killing a bunch of people? Is there some point where you really should define a person by these “mistakes”?

You say that people should tell their children athletes are people who make mistakes, and say that parents should allow athletes to pay the games. See this strikes me as the rationalizing of someone who wants their team to win, and wants to turn a blind eye, tacitly condoning anything it takes to make that happen.

Until his arrest Roberto Osuna was one of my favorite players, and I have really struggled with my feelings about him since. At the end of the day, I have to say that I feel better about him no longer being a part of the Blue Jays.

abgb123
Member
abgb123

Ok I was going to just walk away from this but apparently you need some help because you read 1 thing and ignored the rest.

For starter you couldn’t be more wrong, I said mistake because I didn’t want to address what he did because I don’t know any facts, for all I know he could go to court on Wednesday and have all charges dropped (I don’t believe this to be the case), but I don’t know any facts and I also haven’t see any factual releases, hard to form an opinion on his actions when I don’t know what they were.
I said people “shouldn’t be defined by their mistakes but perhaps what they took out of it”, I suppose I should have said “solely by there mistakes” meaning people are capable of redemption, are you people not capable of inferring from context? As for when they should be defined by their mistakes? I don’t know, who does? I believe they call that a tipping point, eventually someone does something so much or so often they become defined by it, so it was a really really bad horrifically, disgusting mistake and if he did it again that would be enough for me to define him by it but I have a hard time doing it without more information.
As for your “fan rational” bs, I’m a Jays fan, Osuna is a loss both today and for the future (although I’m happily surprised by the return) so no this isn’t the rational of a fan that just wants to win, so get your ears checked if that’s what your hearing.

Moate
Member
Moate

You could just say “crime” or “felony” instead of mistake and then you’re good.

Or, you could just say “I don’t believe women when they accuse men of assault unless a court agrees with them first. I’m too distant from the situation to assume the woman would have a desire to tell the truth about a situation, but instead assume there’s an equal possibility that she’s seeking personal gain by lying.”

The problem is a “mistake” is forgetting to pick up milk from the store, and assaulting another human is a criminal offense, and the language you used is part of a culture of apologist men.

Do you, but do it honestly. That’s why people keep coming at you here. You can’t have it both ways bro.

Brewtown_Kev
Member
Member
Brewtown_Kev

abgb123: It’s time to walk away from this argument, as the internet mob has spoken. Its members will question your parenting, question your honesty, and claim, cynically, that you condone the bad behavior in question if you don’t denounce it clearly and stridently enough to appease them.
And Gawd forbid you dare to admit that you teach your children mercy and forgiveness. Good on you for teaching your children mercy and forgiveness, but don’t try to justify that to the internet mob. The internet mob has no use for mercy and forgiveness.

oldschoolways
Member
Member
oldschoolways

So…the way to teach mercy and forgiveness is to forgive someone still currently serving a domestic violence suspension? Seems a bit of a false dichotomy there. Forgiveness is earned over time.

MickO
Member
MickO

Frankly, I don’t know why you didn’t just insta-forgive everyone who is so wrong about you. They’re just making mistakes like everybody else. You should be cheering for them.

oldschoolways
Member
Member
oldschoolways

Is…is domestic violence “the same mistake everyone else” makes? Who are you hanging out with?

signedepsteinsmother
Member
Member
signedepsteinsmother

Welcome to Sheryl Rings world Mr. Sullivan.

beaster
Member
Member
beaster

100% this and as a father of a young daughter who is a baseball fan its doubly hard

baubo
Member
baubo

I would say if you’re a neutral fan then you can certainly root against teams with player(s) you feel are morally reprehensible.

However it is one of those things where you probably end up realizing there are problem players with many teams who you can’t “explain” this stuff to your kids. I think in the end, it really is better to have kids understand the difference between a player vs. person. Because honestly most of the athletes your kids idolize have a side you don’t want them to know about.

Tea_Wreck
Member
Tea_Wreck

“How do you sit there with your kids and explain this stuff?”

Dad: Okay kid, you’re going to hear about something which might be pretty upsetting… I need to you take a seat.

Daughter: Yes dad?

Dad: Remember a little while ago when you asked about that pitcher in Toronto who did a really bad thing and hurt someone he shouldn’t have?

Daughter: Yes…

Dad: Well, the Astros went out and acquired him.

Daughter: What? Why?

Dad: I could tell you all sorts of crap about forgiveness, redemption, winning, and the business of professional sports, but I’m not. It is a bad look for a team I have rooted for most of my life and you for all of yours. I’d have preferred they didn’t make the trade, but I wasn’t consulted. I have rooted for the Astros throughout thick and thin and this will not be the straw that brakes the camel’s back after going through multiple 100 loss seasons. I might pass on attending some games, I might rethink some non WS 2018 Champion merch, and I might not be too upset if he blows some leads as long as they still win the game. But that is me rationalizing a decision I know I wouldn’t support were someone else doing it. And I’m okay with this little slice of hypocrisy in my life; it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever done.

Daughter: But dad, you said he did a really bad thing. Someone no one should do.

Dad: I know, but I was counting on the Astros doing the right thing; they did cut Julio Lugo afterall. But, just because I’m a flawed person who isn’t going to live up to his aspirational morality doesn’t mean you need to. If you want to root for another team, please do so. Check them out, we have MLB TV after all. I’d suggest giving the Yankees a pass for a couple years, at least until Chapman moves on. I’ll support you and if you decide to root for another team, or even give up on baseball as a fan because of this, I’ll never stop loving and caring for you.

Daughter: Okay dad… who did they trade to get this guy?

Dad: Giles.

Daughter: No loss then

Dad: Yup. Also, if you decide to root for the Rangers I’m cashing out your 529 plan.

Jim
Member
Member
Jim

Great last line.

Tea_Wreck
Member
Tea_Wreck

My kid could grow up to be Republican, Democrat, a Bernie-Bro, Trumpkin, fundie religious nutjob, or the most triggerable lib who deserves to get all the being owned. Straight, LGBTQIA, some car-loving dragonkin, animal spirit, doesn’t matter. I will love them and support them all the same.

If they root for the Cowboys I will disown them.

OddBall Herrera
Member
OddBall Herrera

“there are a lot of terrible people on the world and not all of them get what they deserve and it’s wise to be careful about being so sure about what they do deserve. Instead of getting too stewed up about it, you just do your best not to be one of them. Also, try not to put too much faith in people whose primary skill or only is playing a sport.”

If my son internalized that I would call it a good day’s work.

Tea_Wreck
Member
Tea_Wreck

Exactly, this is like second semester of freshman year at college level parenting challenges. I mean, it’s not easy, and if you haven’t done your homework you’re going to struggle. But if you have put any effort into the preceding classes you’re going to do fine.

stonepie
Member
stonepie

what does osuna deserve in this situation?

Johnston
Member
Johnston

“what does osuna deserve in this situation?”

What everyone deserves: a second chance.

tuker1980
Member
tuker1980

He deserves way more than a second chance. He deserve jail time if he’s guilty. He deserves to repay society for the bad he did. He deserves to be deported back in Mexico if he’s guilty.

A second chance…..he can earn it… but deserve it….i’ll reserve my judgement on that

Rollie's Mustache
Member
Member

Absolutely nothing. He’s fortunate to be still playing the game he loves, earning a salary most of us can only dream of.

It’s not that he *doesn’t* deserve a second chance – I’m not a GM who has the power to make that decision – but now that he’s got one hopefully he uses it wisely and changes for the better.

OddBall Herrera
Member
OddBall Herrera

Honestly – I can’t find many details on what’s been alleged, beyond just a ‘domestic incident’, so how can I say? I mean, did he push someone? Did he hospitalize someone? I hope he has his day in court and is prosecuted to the fullest degree possible in light of whatever he’s alleged to have done, and that’s about all I can say with the information I have.

The question of whether or not he plays baseball in the meantime or afterward, or for whom, is much, much less important to me than that the justice system has its say. This may be an unpopular opinion in today’s “express outrage and get details later (if ever)” culture, but…

eldurko
Member
Member
eldurko

This is what I’m trying to find out. There’s no details on this. Passan’s Yahoo! article mentions the incident and links to the report from when news broke that included no details. Then, after that, he refers to “pictures” and “stories police officers are still telling” without any link to this. People jumped on Chapman, even when the story had some logical holes. This story doesn’t even really seem to exist (in terms of available information), and people are even heavier with the hot takes.

gavinrendar
Member
gavinrendar

“How do I explain this to my kids” is becoming he modern day version of “Won’t someone think of the CHIDLREN!?”

I mean my goodness, there are people who do good things and there are people who do bad things. How do you explain the NFL to your kid or the rap community or Hollywood? Why suddenly does it now “not compute” that someone on an MLB team did something awful?

Tell them “That guy did really bad stuff and he got in trouble for it. Don’t ever do bad stuff to anyone okay?” and move on with your life. If you don’t yet know how to tell your kid that bad things do happen in this world, you probably should just not let them watch TV at all.

Tea_Wreck
Member
Tea_Wreck

“How do I explain this to my kids”

This was used 20 years ago as justification for why gay marriage or other morality laws targeting LGBT people were tolerable. “How could I ever explain to my kids that two men were kissing!?!?!” I’m sure there were op/eds along those lines back when Kirk kissed Uhura.

People hide behind their kids all the time when it comes to explaining things that bother the person.

insidb
Member
insidb

“You can support the team or not support the team, but I certainly won’t and hope you’ll never support an abuser. While I hope he turns his life around and becomes a better person, you can never compromise on accountability. Maybe it would be best for him to be ineligible. Either way, we may find ourselves rooting for wins, on the back of his contributions. I wish they didn’t do this, but this puts us in a conflicted position, so I totally understand if you don’t want to support them. The only thing we can really do is never put ourselves in that man’s position and do what we can to prevent abuse and support victims.”

jkates
Member
jkates

What’s more racist?

A) A hand-motion that Yuli Gurriel did while saying he normally doesn’t hit Asian pitchers well. (NOTE: Nothing derogatory said.)

B) Showing such a lack of understanding for Yuli Gurriel’s culture so as to not understand there was no ill intent behind his gesture?

jamesdakrn
Member
jamesdakrn

Or C) Refusing to admit that the slanted eye gesture, to an Asian American like myself is a middle finger to my entire race?

It was not innocuous. Yes, he may have mistaken (which is retarded given he actually effin played in Japan) but IMO the Houstonians defending his actions are worse than the “mistake”

You guys are willfully ignoring this. I sincerely hope every ill befalls everyone who stood up to give him the standing ovation during the WS

gavinrendar
Member
gavinrendar

You seriously use the word “retarded” in a derogatory fashion while simultaneously claiming to be a victim of offensive speech?

And then you speak of ignorance of the other commenters?

And then you hope for bad things to happen to Gurriel’s fans?

I don’t think you’re being part of a solution at all.