OAKLAND, Calif. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – 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.
The Astros lead the AL West, but were set to begin a series at Seattle having lost a season-high four in a row. They also acquired reliever Ryan Pressly from Minnesota last week.
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.
“This has been exceptionally difficult,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said on a conference call. “… This was a negotiated agreement between Major League Baseball and the players’ association.”
Astros pitchers Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers Jr. voiced disdain for domestic abusers in March when video leaked of former Astros prospect Danry Vasquez beating his girlfriend. Vasquez was released by Houston following an arrest for the incident in 2016. KRIV-TV in Houston obtained and aired the video, which showed Vasquez, still partly in uniform, hitting his girlfriend in a stairwell at Double-A Corpus Christi’s stadium.
“(Middle finger emoji) you man,” Verlander tweeted. “I hope the rest of your life without baseball is horrible. You deserve all that is coming your way!”
“This is the reality of domestic violence,” McCullers wrote. “It’s always brutal, always sickening. We must fight for the victims, video or not. He should be in jail. If you need help, find it. People care.”
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 postseason, 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.
“The due diligence by our front office was unprecedented. We are confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind,” Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said in a statement.
In a statement released by Houston, 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.
Atkins said Giles has shown “he’s willing to be accountable for those actions.”
“It’s unfortunate,” the GM said. “I’m sure that contributed to him being available.”
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 postseason. 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.
Giles entered Game 4 in the ninth with the game tied at 1 and allowed all three batters he faced to reach base. Giles took the loss and did not appear again in the series.
Giles has a $4.6 million salary and is eligible for free agency after the 2020 season.
The 24-year-old Paulino is 2-1 with a 6.25 ERA in nine games with the Astros this year and has a 4.67 ERA in seven games for Triple-A Fresno and the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Astros.
The 22-year-old Perez is 3-4 with two saves and a 3.73 ERA in 21 games at Class A Buies Creek and Double-A Corpus Christi.
“This made sense for the organization from a baseball perspective,” Atkins said. “We had the opportunity to trade Roberto for three players we’re excited about.”
The Astros are currently 67-40 and in first place in the American League West division.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)