The Toronto Blue Jays made a big splash on the trade market Monday, sending suspended closer Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros in exchange for Ken Giles and a pair of pitching prospects.
Osuna hasn’t appeared in an MLB game since May 6 after violating MLB’s personal conduct policy. The 23-year-old was arrested and charged with assault on May 8. He is eligible to return to action on Aug. 5 after completing his 75-game suspension.
“I am excited to join the Houston Astros and move forward with a fresh start to my career,” Osuna said in a release. “The positive character of my new teammates is a big reason for their success and I look forward to bringing a positive contribution to this great group of guys as we work towards many more winning seasons. I thank Jeff Luhnow and the entire Astros organization for believing in me – I will not let them down.”
In return for Osuna, the Blue Jays receive a hard-throwing right-hander with 77 career saves to his name, as well as two intriguing minor-leaguers. Here’s the rundown on the players coming back to Toronto in the deal.
WHAT HE OFFERS
As previously alluded to, Giles has plenty of experience closing games at the MLB level, earning a career-high 34 saves during the Astros’ World Series-winning season in 2017. He owns a career ERA of 2.72 with a very strong 12.0 K/9 rate.
He hasn’t found consistency in 2018, as evidenced by his 4.99 ERA in 34 games. The struggles led to Houston demoting him to triple-A earlier this month. However, when you take a look at the peripheral numbers, Giles seems to be the victim of some bad luck. With a 2.28 FIP, .366 BABIP and 10.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio, Giles figures to see his statistics improve over the remainder of the season.
In addition to the track record of success, another appealing factor about Giles is his contract status. The Albuquerque, N.M., native is earning $4.6 million this year and is under club control through the 2020 season. Whether or not the Blue Jays choose to use him as their closer moving forward, Giles gives them a solid piece to deploy out of the bullpen for the foreseeable future.
While his regular-season performance has been solid for the most part, the same cannot be said for last season’s playoff run. Giles was a liability on the mound during Houston’s World Series push, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to adjust his tactics in high-leverage situations. Giles appeared in seven playoff games for the Astros and surrendered runs in all but one contest. All told, he allowed 10 runs in 7.2 innings pitched.
One of the most emotional pitchers in the game, Giles generated headlines earlier this season when he infamously punched himself in the face after a terrible outing against the New York Yankees.
The Blue Jays will be hoping their new acquisition can rein in that frustration moving forward and limit the meltdowns on the mound.
WHAT HE OFFERS
Paulino was ranked as the Astros’ 23rd-best prospect by MLB Pipeline prior to the trade. He features a curveball, slider and change-up in addition to a fastball that sits between 91-95 m.p.h. and tops out at 98. Per MLB Pipeline, the six-foot-eight right-hander also boasts good control, demonstrating a strong ability to throw strikes. He has been given a taste of MLB action, yielding 25 runs in 36 innings.
This season has been a bit of a struggle for Paulino thus far as he carries a 4.67 ERA through seven games across two minor-league levels. His 11.5 K/9 rate through four games at triple-A is a reason for optimism, though.
QUESTION MARKS SWIRL
Paulino’s ceiling enticed the Astros to swing a trade for him in 2013 but the Dominican Republic native has since had trouble staying on the field. Tommy John surgery cost him the vast majority of the 2013 campaign as well as the entirety of 2014, and a PED suspension knocked him out for 80 games in 2017. Prior to that ban, he was ranked as the Astros’ No. 3 prospect and 44th in all of baseball.
While Paulino’s raw talent remains intriguing, the significant injury and suspension have to raise some red flags. The Blue Jays are rolling the dice that Paulino will reach his potential donning the blue and white.
WHAT HE OFFERS
Perez, who was promoted to double-A earlier this month, will join the likes of Ryan Borucki, Sean Reid-Foley and T.J. Zeuch as pitching prospects the Blue Jays will be hoping to line up with blue-chip youngsters Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette.
Rated as the 10th-best player in the Astros’ farm system according to MLB Pipeline, Perez’s top pitch is his fastball, which ranges from 93-99 m.p.h. He also possesses a slider, curveball and splitter. The 22-year-old owns a 3.73 ERA in 21 games split between advanced-A and double-A in 2018.
WALK IT OUT
While Perez wields an appealing four-pitch arsenal that could allow him to achieve success at the major-league level, a rising walk rate is cause for concern. Perez issued an alarming 6.5 walks per nine innings last season. He has improved that figure this year, trimming it to 4.8, but that is still considered “awful” according to FanGraphs.
If he can’t get the control issues ironed out, his overpowering fastball could allow him to transition to a high-leverage relief role if necessary. For now, the Blue Jays will continue to use him as a starter in the hopes he can get his walk rate down.