HOUS­TON, YOU HAVE A PROB­LEM

Jays wash their hands of trou­bled Osuna in deal with As­tros

The Province - - SPORTS | BASEBALL - ROB LON­G­LEY rlon­g­ley@post­media.com @lon­g­ley­sun­sport

On one hand, the Blue Jays feel that deal­ing Roberto

Osuna was a trade “that made base­ball sense.”

On the other, send­ing the tal­ented but trou­bled closer to the World Se­ries cham­pion Hous­ton As­tros on Mon­day had an el­e­ment of al­low­ing him to be­come some­body else’s prob­lem.

With his 75-game sus­pen­sion stem­ming from as­sault charges he is fac­ing in Toronto due to end this week­end, Osuna will get that op­por­tu­nity to re­vive his ca­reer with the As­tros.

Re­turn­ing to the Jays in the deal is the As­tros for­mer closer Ken Giles, who has strug­gled and was de­moted to triple-A this sea­son, as well as pitch­ing prospects Hector

Perez and David Paulinho.

As with any trade there is risk in­volved but at least the Jays got a pack­age with the po­ten­tial for up­side for a player that would have been a hard sell to its fan base given the le­gal pro­ceed­ings. Jays gen­eral man­ager Ross

Atkins ac­knowl­edged that bring­ing back Osuna to Toronto car­ried the risk of neg­a­tive fan re­ac­tion, a fac­tor that ap­pears to have weighed into the team’s move.

“We do feel a re­spon­si­bil­ity to the fans and we do feel em­pa­thy for the fans and we ul­ti­mately work for the fans, that’s how we view our jobs,” said Atkins, who has been shop­ping Osuna for sev­eral weeks and had mul­ti­ple suit­ors. “We are hu­man. It is very dif­fi­cult for ac­cu­sa­tions not to in­flu­ence us in some way.

“Hav­ing said that, this made sense for the or­ga­ni­za­tion from a base­ball per­spec­tive.”

Osuna, a 23-year-old na­tive of Si­naloa, Mex­ico, is sched­uled to ap­pear in Toronto court on Wednes­day for the lat­est in the pro­ceed­ings from the May 9 as­sault charges. Ma­jor League base­ball re­acted swiftly to those charges, levy­ing the hefty sus­pen­sion un­der the league’s do­mes­tic vi­o­lence pol­icy.

“My client is a su­per­star pitcher and he will suc­ceed wher­ever he plays,” his crim­i­nal de­fence lawyer Domenic Basile told the Toronto Sun’s

Sam Paz­zano. “He is pre­sumed in­no­cent and I in­tend to re­solve this case to his ben­e­fit as soon as pos­si­ble. But the Cana­dian jus­tice sys­tem doesn’t move as quickly as a pro sport­ing event.

“Roberto loved this city and its fans and wanted to re­turn to the team.”

The As­tros, mean­while, are well aware of the po­ten­tial for neg­a­tive pub­lic re­ac­tion to the ac­qui­si­tion, which loads up the team’s bullpen for a pos­si­ble run at a World Se­ries re­peat.

Gen­eral man­ager Jef­fLuh­now said he asked for and was granted per­mis­sion from the Jays to speak with Osuna be­fore the deal was made.

“I wanted to un­der­stand Roberto as a per­son more,” Luh­now said on a con­fer­ence call. “I won’t dis­close the de­tails, but suf­fice to say I came out of that con­ver­sa­tion with all the things I was look­ing to hear from him.

“Quite frankly, I be­lieve you can have a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy and give peo­ple sec­ond chances when they have made a mis­take in other or­ga­ni­za­tions.”

Luh­now said he has tracked Osuna since he was a 16-year-old and mul­ti­ple times ap­proached for­mer Jays GM Alex An­thopou­los to in­quire about his avail­abil­ity.

“He’s a weapon that can make us bet­ter,” Luh­now said. “On the base­ball side, this is an elite pitcher. There is still an ac­tive (court) case and I can­not com­ment ex­cept that we did a lot of back­ground work as third par­ties.”

The Jays, mean­while, hope Giles re­gains the form that helped the team win the di­vi­sion on the way to its long play­off run last sea­son.

“We see his stuff as be­ing elec­tric and one of the bet­ter weapons in the game,” Atkins said.

Perez, mean­while, is a 23-year-old start­ing pitcher who Atkins said will “add near-term start­ing depth” to the Jays while Paulinho is a 24-year-old who was once con­sid­ered one of the As­tros top prospects.

“Like any other de­ci­sion you have to con­sider the risks and the di­rec­tion we could have taken,” Atkins said. “We had an op­por­tu­nity to trade Roberto for three play­ers we are ex­cited about.”

Wash­ing their hands of Osuna, it would seem, the bonus to the trans­ac­tion.

FRESH START

Osuna didn’t have many stronger sup­port­ers with the Jays than man­ager John Gib­bons, who hopes his for­mer bullpen ace re­sponds to the change of scenery and the op­por­tu­nity to re­vive his ca­reer.

“I love the kid, I’ve been his only man­ager,” Gib­bons said be­fore Mon­day’s opener of a three-game se­ries vs. the Ath­let­ics. “But he’s got some is­sues to deal with.

“I wish him well, but more im­por­tantly more than base­ball I hope he gets his life to­gether and deals with the chaos and BS and goes on to have a great ca­reer like I think he will.”

In the short term, Gib­bons will have an ac­tual closer to deal with, pos­si­bly as soon as Tues­day. Af­ter a blowup with As­tros man­ager A.J. Hinch that got him de­moted, Giles has been with triple A-Fresno for the past cou­ple of weeks.

“I’ve had my own is­sues with play­ers in the past so it’s not like it’s go­ing to be (a prob­lem),” Gib­bon said. “I don’t know what hap­pened (with Giles in Hous­ton) but we’ve had a lot of guys who have re­ally come into their own once they’ve come to this team.

“Hope­fully that hap­pens here. It’ll be a new start for him too, which I’m sure he needs.”

AROUND THE BASES

There’s still some un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing Lour­des

Gur­riel Jr. who ex­ited Sun­day’s game in Chicago with an an­kle in­jury. Ac­cord­ing to the team, the rookie hit­ting sen­sa­tion had an MRI on Mon­day and the train­ing staff is re­view­ing plans for his re­cov­ery … Sur­prise guest in the Jays club­house Mon­day — short stop Troy

Tu­low­itzki, who con­tin­ues to re­hab from heel surgery … To make room for Giles on the 40-man ros­ter, righthander Oliver Drake was des­ig­nated for as­sign­ment … Also, third base­man Josh

Don­ald­son was trans­ferred to the 60-day DL … The lon­gawaited re­turn of starter

Aaron Sanchez is sched­uled to take an­other move for­ward on Tues­day. Sanchez will pitch a bullpen ses­sion in Florida.

— THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILES

Roberto Osuna was dealt to the As­tros for pitch­ers Ken Giles, Hector Perez and David Paulinho.

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