Hoping to lock down the back end of the bullpen while trying to defend their World Series crown, the Houston Astros traded for suspended reliever Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays, shipping back three right-handed pitchers — demoted closer Ken Giles and minor leaguers David Paulino and Hector Perez.
Both teams officially announced the move on Monday.
Osuna, 23, is in the midst of serving a 75-game suspension from Major League Baseball for violating the league’s joint domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse policy in connection with an assault charge. The star closer was arrested May 8 and charged with one count of assault in Toronto.
Osuna can return to the majors on Aug. 5 and will be eligible for the postseason, as players suspended for domestic violence are eligible to play in the playoffs, unlike those banned under the league’s for performance-enhancing drug policy.
“We are excited to welcome Roberto Osuna to our team,” Astros President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement. “The due diligence by our front office was unprecedented. We are confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind.”
Osuna will join the Astros in Los Angeles on Sunday and a corresponding move will be made once he joins Houston’s roster.
“I am excited to join the Houston Astros and move forward with a fresh start to my career,” Osuna said in a press release. “The positive character of my new teammates is a big reason for their success and I look forward to bringing a positive contribution to this great group of guys as we work towards many more winning seasons. I thank Jeff Luhnow and the entire Astros organization for believing in me — I will not let them down.”
The right-handed Osuna was at Triple-A Buffalo on a rehab assignment that has covered three levels and included six scoreless appearances, allowing seven hits and striking out seven.
With the Blue Jays this season, Osuna is 9-for-10 in save opportunities with no decisions and a 2.93 ERA in 15 appearances. He broke into the majors with Toronto in 2015, saving 20 games before saving 36 in 2016 and 39 in ‘17. He was a first-time All-Star last season.
Giles, 27, had fallen from grace in Houston after saving 34 games with a 2.30 ERA during the regular season in 2017. The right-hander struggled in the Astros’ World Series-winning run as he went 0-2 with an 11.74 ERA in seven outings last postseason, pulled early often. This season Giles was 0-2 with a 4.99 ERA in 34 games before being demoted to the minor leagues earlier this month.
Paulino, 24, was formerly Houston’s top-ranked prospect and even reached the majors briefly, pitching in nine games in 2016-17 with a 2-1 record and 6.25 ERA. The career of the 6-foot-7 hurler has been derailed by both Tommy John surgery and an 80-game steroid suspension last season. He has a 4.67 ERA in seven minor league starts this season.
Perez, 22, has pitched at two levels this season, compiling a 3-4 record and 3.73 ERA in 21 games (13 starts) at Class-A Buies Creek and Double-A Corpus Christi.
The league initially placed Osuna on administrative leave, during which he was paid but could not play, on May 8. The administrative leave subsequently was extended at least four times as MLB investigated the alleged incident.
The terms of the suspension included a “confidential and comprehensive evaluation and treatment program” approved by the Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy board that includes the participation of MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Osuna was due in court on July 9 to offer a plea, but the date was rescheduled for Aug. 1. He plans to plead not guilty to the charge, according to his lawyer.
Based on his $5.3 million salary for this year, the 75-game suspension will cost Osuna approximately $2.45 million.
—Field Level Media