Almost all trading deadlines cover accounting in one form or another. The center of all negotiation and discussion at the negotiating table is the same – an assessment of the value of a player, measured in dollars or profits or otherwise, stacked against the value of his return. But there is another dimension in this process that can distort all these measurements and disrupt the whole formula, and that is a certain moral record.
On Monday, Toronto sent helper Roberto Osuna to Houston in exchange for former close Ken Giles pitching prospects, Hector Perez and David Paulino. Moral accounting is inevitable here, part of what created the basis for making the deal possible in the first place. Having suspended 75 games after a league investigation determined that he has broken the common domestic violence policy, Osuna has not pitched in nearly three months. At a court hearing scheduled for this Wednesday, he plans to plead guilty to an attack in Toronto. At the end of this weekend he will have finished his suspension; without complications at his hearing, he will then be able to return to the hill. And unlike performance-enhancing drug suspensions, suspensions of domestic violence do not include a ban on the season, so Osuna will also be free for the October run of the Astro.
So what exactly did that mean for the commercial value of the tool? An optimistic view would be that the situation had only driven down the interest ̵
The Astros do not seem to be particularly worried about the ethics or the look of the situation here. "The due diligence from our front office was unprecedented," said Houston GM Jeff Luhnow in a statement. (It is worth noting here that there are essentially no public details about Osuna's arrest or the League investigation leading to his suspension.) "We are confident that Osuna is remorseful, has intentionally respected all the consequences of his previous behavior, and is proactively engaged in counseling and will fully adhere to our zero tolerance policy on abuse of any kind. "His statement was paired with an apology from Osuna.
The main designations of the front office are of course baseball notions. "We are humans and everything is a variable when we make decisions," said Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins to the media on Monday . "But in the end, that was a good baseball deal that made sense to us."
As a baseball deal it makes sense – lots of it. The Astros are such a well-rounded club that it does not seem quite right to consider anything as a real flaw, but if they've had one lately, it's their bullpen. This is in large part due to the collapse of Giles, who was an important part of last year's championship team, but whose string of rocky performances earned him a downgrade to the minor leagues three weeks ago. They've taken a step to remedy this by trading a number of prospects for Minnesota's Ryan Pressly earlier this week, but now they're taking a much bigger step. Although Osuna had only a handful of appearances this season before being arrested and then suspended, he looked as sharp as ever. The 23-year-old has been one of the most effective players in the league ever since his debut in 2015, and after this year he has two more seasons under the team's control.
Giles is the most eye-catching name in the return package and despite everything In his recent bouts, he could come to a convincing renovation project. When he returns to top form, he can easily be just as impressive as Osuna; He is also under control of the team for two more seasons. Meanwhile, Perez and Paulino are not elite profiles, but solid and logical investments for a club focused more on the future than the present.
As Atkins said, that's a good baseball deal. But it took some unseemly moral accounting to consider the exact terms of this good deal, which it did at the same time, if not a bad deal, then at least an ugly one.