The Roberto Osuna saga officially ended in Toronto after the Blue Jays traded him to the Houston Astros on Monday afternoon.
The 23-year-old pitcher, who was charged with domestic assault in May and was handed a 75-game suspension by the MLB on June 22, was traded for pitcher Ken Giles and a pair of prospects.
The suspension came just over a week after San Diego Padres pitcher José Torres received a 100-game ban after being arrested for domestic violence.
Osuna became an instant fan favourite when he showed up in 2015 as a 20-year-old, hard-throwing closing pitcher. He finished fourth place in Rookie of the Year voting after converting 20 saves for the Jays that season while establishing himself as one of the best at his position in baseball. He ended that season with a 2.58 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched.
All of his fan love quickly disappeared when news broke of his arrest and it was clear he would never be able to sport the Blue Jays jersey ever again.
Source: #BlueJays decided earlier this season that Roberto Osuna would not pitch for them again at @MLB level following the domestic violence incident. Blue Jays ownership and management decided to make the best trade they could. This was it. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 30, 2018
Osuna said he was grateful the Astros added him to their bullpen in a statement following the trade.
“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,” he said.
“I will not let them down,” Osuna said.
He is to appear in a Toronto court on Aug. 1 as his case is still ongoing.
The Astros’ president and general manager Jeff Luhnow also expressed his reasoning for acquiring Osuna.
“We are confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behaviour, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind,” Luhnow said.
The trade has received backlash from both fan bases, but there are a number of Astros fans who have expressed their support of the acquisition.
A lot of Astros fans obviously will have mixed feelings about trading someone like Osuna but they’ll go away once you see him pitch. Just the way it is – you’ll forget what he did once you see how good he is. Elite pitcher.
— Graves (@GalIahad) July 30, 2018
Very good deal on the Astros end if you ask me. Osuna one of the best bullpen arms in the league.
— Chasefor28 (@Yankeesfan824) July 31, 2018
To my #AstrosTwitter peeps, the deal for Osuna is a Bold and Strong one. Luhnow and the Astros organization have done their homework on Osuna and the situation. The charges are supposed to be dropped and all will be good. Fastest closet in MLB history to 100 saves and only 23
— Astros4Life (@Chendley3380) July 30, 2018
These positive reactions add to a major problem in today’s MLB in that many fans of the game prefer to see on-field results and ignore what players do off of the field.
There aren’t many jobs where someone can be charged with domestic assault or cited for homophobic and racist slurs, and return to work the next day to be applauded by their peers.
That was the case for all-star pitcher Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers, who had a series of old homophobic and racist tweets uncovered two weeks ago.
Some of his explicit tweets included “I hate gay people,” and many with the use of the n-word and mentions of “white power.”
Hader issued a public apology with the support of his teammates, and returned to the field last week to receive a standing ovation from the home crowd.
“Baseball culture seems to care more about bat flipping and dancing instead of domestic abuse and racism,” Nick Vonapartis, a senior data analyst with SPORTLOGiQ and now a disgruntled Blue Jays fan, told Humber News.
He believes a trade doesn’t fix the problem for players like Osuna facing serious allegations.
“The only real moral decision would have been to outright cut him and blackball him from playing professional baseball ever again,”Vonapartis said. “The Astros should be even more embarrassed.”