Swapping a closer with on-field problems for one with off-field troubles, the World Series champion Houston Astros traded Ken Giles to the Toronto Blue Jays along with a pair of pitching prospects for Roberto Osuna on Monday.
Houston also sent right-handers David Paulino and Hector Perez to Toronto as part of the deal, a day before the deadline for trades without waivers.
“This was one (deal) that made sense form a baseball perspective,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said on a conference call Monday. ”Extremely excited about Giles, Perez and Paulino joining the organization. I think for many reasons this deal made sense and it starts with the talent we’re acquiring.”
The 23-year-old Osuna is eligible to pitch in the big leagues starting Sunday after a 75-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. He has made six scoreless one-inning appearances in the minors since July 14, the last three at Triple-A.
Osuna has not pitched in the majors since May 6, two days before he was put on administrative leave when he was charged with one count of assault in Toronto — which remains pending. His next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday in Toronto.
Atkins was asked whether having the bad optics of Osuna returning to pitch for the Jays factored in the decision to make the move.
“We do feel a responsibility to the fans and we do feel empathy for the fans and we ultimately work for the fans,” he said. “That’s how we do our jobs. We are human and it is very difficult for accusations not to influence us in some way.
“Having said that, this made sense for the organization from a baseball perspective.”
Osuna is 0-0 with nine saves in 10 chances and a 2.93 ERA in 15 games this season. He was an All-Star last year, when he went 3-4 with 39 saves and a 3.38 ERA.
The right-hander would be eligible to pitch in the post-season, unlike players suspended under the drug policy this year, such as Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano, who is ineligible.
Osuna lost 89 days’ pay, which comes to $2,536,022 of his $5.3 million salary, and the suspension delayed his eligibility for free agency by one year until after the 2021 season.
In a statement released by the Astros, Osuna said: “I thank Jeff Luhnow and the entire Astros organization for believing in me. I will not let them down.”
The 27-year-old Giles is 0-2 with 12 saves and a 4.99 ERA this season, and was currently in the minors.
Giles punched himself in the face this season while heading to the dugout after giving up a three-run, ninth-inning homer to the Yankees’ Gary Sanchez on May 1. He was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on July 11, a night after the hard-throwing righty appeared to curse at manager A.J. Hinch when he lifted him from the game.
The 27-year-old Giles had 34 saves in 38 chances with a 2.30 ERA and 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings for the Astros last season. Houston won its first World Series title, but he struggled in the post-season. He allowed two runs in three innings against Boston in the AL Division Series. He surrendered three more runs, taking the loss in Game 4 of the League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, and allowed five runs in a pair of World Series appearances against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Associated Press