The Astros have placed right-hander Roberto Osuna on outright waivers, reports Jake Kaplan of The Athletic (Twitter link). The right-hander missed most of the 2020 season with an elbow injury and was initially recommended to undergo Tommy John surgery, although a second opinion caused him to attempt to rehab the injury without surgery. Osuna was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to repeat his $10MM salary in his final trip through arbitration, and his salary and injury have made an obvious non-tender candidate. That’s what this move effectively boils down to.
Given Osuna’s injury, projected salary and prior suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, it’s all but a lock that he’ll clear waivers and become a free agent.
Still just 25 years of age, Osuna pitched only 4 1/3 innings in 2020 before landing on the injured list with what proved to be a season-ending elbow ailment. He’s been consistently excellent every season he’s been on the mound — career 2.74 ERA, 9.9 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 — but Osuna also served 75-game suspension in 2018 after his girlfriend filed domestic violence charges against him. Osuna eventually agreed to a peace bond in Canada, which resulted in the charges being dropped.
Per the Canadian Department of Justice’s web site, peace bonds are generally used when “an individual (the defendant) appears likely to commit a criminal offence, but there are no reasonable grounds to believe that an offence has actually been committed.” The Canadian Department of Justice further specifies that peace bonds are obtainable by “any person who fears that another person may injure them, their spouse or common-law partner, or a child, or may damage their property.”
All of that will be factored into any future negotiations between Osuna and a new team once he reaches the market, although Osuna’s own track record shows that teams will look past allegations of abuse and assault in order to acquire a productive Major Leaguer. The Astros embarrassingly walked back their own “zero tolerance” policy for domestic abuse in order to acquire Osuna at a lower cost in the middle of his suspension, and we’ve seen other teams pay premium prices to sign players who’ve served suspensions under the domestic violence policy (most notably the Yankees with Aroldis Chapman).
The most immediate determining factor in Osuna’s next destination will be the health of his right elbow (or lack thereof). He began a throwing program about a month after initially being shut down, but he’ll have a ways to go before he’s ready to rejoin a bullpen.