Blue Jays trade suspended closer Roberto Osuna to Astros

·MLB Writer
The Toronto Blue Jays have moved on from Roberto Osuna. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
The Toronto Blue Jays have moved on from Roberto Osuna. (Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

After a number of reports indicated the Toronto Blue Jays were looking to offload closer Roberto Osuna, the club has moved on from the 23-year-old.

The right-hander is in the midst of a 75-game suspension for violating the MLB’s domestic violence policy and eligible to play in the big leagues again starting on August 4. He makes $5.3 million this year and is under team control through 2020 with his second and third arbitration seasons.

Osuna is currently working in the minor leagues where he’s pitched six scoreless innings in preparation for his return. He posted a 2.93 ERA with a 2.06 FIP in 15.1 innings with the Blue Jays prior to his suspension.

From a purely baseball perspective, the Houston Astros bolster their already-strong bullpen with the move, adding a player who has a history of performing in high-leverage spots. The return is headlined by reliever Ken Giles and also includes prospects Hector Perez and David Paulino.

Giles figures to be a buy-low opportunity for the Blue Jays as he’s currently having a rough season where he’s posted a 4.99 ERA in 30.2 innings and infamously punched himself in the face after a meltdown against the New York Yankees. His elite 2.10 FIP and strong 9.10 K/9 indicate there’s probably something left in the tank, though.

The 27-year-old, like Osuna, is under club control through 2020. He’s currently earning $4.6 million and is unlikely to see his salary increase considerably in 2019 due to his rough season that’s included a demotion to Triple-A.

Perez, 22, is the higher-ranked prospect in the deal, coming in at number 10 on the Astros’ top 30, according to MLB Pipeline. The right-hander brings mid-90s heat and a variety of secondary offerings including a curveball, slider, and splitter. Perez’s biggest issue has been his control and command. This season he’s posted a 4.8 BB/9 across two levels in in 89.1 innings of work, but that walk rate has come with a solid 3.73 ERA and strong 10.2 K/9.

Whether he ultimately settles in as a starter or high-leverage reliever remains to be seen, but he’s certainly an intriguing arm. The Dominican hurler is currently working at Double-A and could come quickly if the Blue Jays see him as more of a bullpen option.

Paulino is a former top-100 prospect – making it as high as 51st on Baseball America’s list prior to 2017 – who’s lost some serious shine. The 24-year-old ranks 23rd on the Astros’ current top 30 list, tumbling down after being suspended 80 games last season for a positive PED test. The 6’7″ Dominican has already had a taste of big-league action, posting a 6.25 ERA across 36 innings in 2016 and 2017.

The big right-hander has four pitches, giving him a starter’s profile, but he also needs to refine his command in order to be effective. He hasn’t pitched much this year and has put up a mediocre 4.67 ERA, but his 11.0 K/9 shows the stuff is still there. Much like Giles, Paulino is a buy-low.

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