For a lot of teams, the trade deadline doesn’t really matter. Teams like the Orioles or Royals, are focusing on rebuilding for the future. They have no immediate needs because they have no chance at the postseason.
But for a few select teams, the trade deadline is the last opportunity to make big moves without having to deal with waivers. Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Astros, to name a few, are hastily making moves to beef up their teams in preparations for what at this point seem like inevitable postseason runs. Baseball Prospectus has the Red Sox at a 100% probability of making the postseason, with the aforementioned teams only a few decimals behind.
But one trade, in particular, has stood out for the wrong reason: the Houston Astros shocked baseball fans when they acquired Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays. Osuna is currently serving a 75-game suspension for violating MLB and MLBPA’s joint policy on domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. The suspension is set to end on Saturday, but Osuna’s scheduled court appearance for tomorrow may affect that. He reportedly plans to plead not guilty.
Osuna’s suspension is the second-longest in MLB history for an infraction of this kind. At the time of his arrest, the Blue Jays organization said they fully supported MLB placing the pitcher on administrative leave while they investigated the situation, saying “the type of conduct associated with this incident is not reflective of our values as an organization.”
Apparently, Houston doesn’t feel the same way.
It’s a disappointing move for the Astros, considering Osuna’s new teammates have spoken out against him in the past, and about domestic violence in general. Back in March, former Astros prospect Danry Vazquez was caught on camera beating his girlfriend in the stairwell at Whataburger Field, and ace Justin Verlander didn’t hold back with his response:
Verlander told MLB.com today that while no one knows the full story surrounding Osuna’s suspension, he remains outspoken against “stuff like this,” saying, “I stand by my words.”
The Houston Chronicle first reported that while Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and the team did reach out to some players and members of the coaching staff to test the waters about Osuna joining the team, Verlander was not one of the players they contacted. Surprise, surprise.
No way to know how this will affect the clubhouse culture in Houston, but it seems the front office is willing to risk it. It certainly paid off for the Cubs when Aroldis Chapman helped them win their first World Series in over a hundred years. He’d been the first player disciplined under the policy, receiving 30 games.
But the cost, to me, is too high. No one wants to bring out the welcome wagon for a guy who beats up women. Most sane, moral people won’t root for him.
I said this when the Royals were considering signing convicted child molester Luke Heimlich, and I’ll say it again now: don’t sign people who break laws and do terrible things. Just don’t do it. Not only will they likely be a headache, but you lose the respect of your fans along the way. And for a team like the Houston Astros, the reigning World Champions, first place in their division, a near-lock for another postseason run, it’s just a pathetic look. It screams of desperation. It should leave a bad taste in your mouth.
The joke is almost too easy: Houston, you have a problem.