11:20am: Beyond Osuna, it doesn’t seem that the Jays are marketing much in the way of controllable players. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that their deadline talks are centered around Osuna, Tyler Clippard, John Axford, Aaron Loup and Curtis Granderson — each of whom is a free agent after the 2018 season.
8:45am: The Blue Jays are actively trying to trade closer Roberto Osuna, whose suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy will conclude on Aug. 5, execs with other teams tell Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter links).
While there’s been speculation of a potential Osuna trade over the past couple of months, Rosenthal’s report is the first recent indication that the Jays are actually shopping their closer in an effort to find a deal. Previously, GM Ross Atkins had made strong on-record indications that the organization fully anticipates Osuna to step back into the closer’s role upon returning from his league-imposed 75-game ban.
Obviously, any club weighing a trade for the 23-year-old Osuna will have multiple layers to consider. Beyond any moral and public relations considerations, Rosenthal noted last week that Osuna’s next hearing is set for Aug. 1 — the day after the non-waiver trade deadline. A criminal conviction could result in additional time away from the field and/or complications in his ability to travel with a team.
It should be noted that unlike players who are suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, those suspended under the league’s Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy are eligible for postseason play. Osuna, who was generally regarded as one of the game’s best relievers prior to his suspension, would be able to pitch in the playoffs this season for any club that acquired him.
Another element that teams will surely consider will be that of Osuna’s service time — or, more specifically, the lack thereof. Players do not accrue MLB service time while serving suspensions pertaining to domestic violence, meaning that Osuna won’t accrue enough time in 2018 to reach four full years of Major League service. As such, the suspension has delayed his path to free agency by a full year. He entered the season on pace to reach the open market following the 2020 campaign, but he’ll now be controlled through the 2021 season and will be arbitration-eligible thrice more.
As always, weighing the on-field abilities and the business perspective of someone facing these types of personal allegations is a dicey line for teams to walk, though Chapman’s 2016 suspension, trade and subsequent free-agent contract serve as evidence that clubs will still pay a premium for talent even if it comes with this of baggage. Through 223 innings at the big league level, Osuna owns a career 2.87 ERA with 10.2 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 0.77 HR/9 and a 38 percent ground-ball rate. Virtually every contending club in MLB is looking to bolster its bullpen in the day and a half leading up to tomorrow’s non-waiver trade deadline, and there are some clubs who are out of contention in 2018 but remain open to adding long-term pieces that could help in 2019 and beyond as well.