I know that the mere suggestion of such a transaction is going to make fans of the Toronto Blue Jays throw their devices across the room or jump from the glass window of their office building. However, amidst all the anger and dismay this may bring me, I am going to argue to benefits of trading the 22-year old wunderkind.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Osuna as much as anyone. When he is on the mound, it seems as though there is an electricity that pulses through his veins and ignites the sea of blue at Rogers Centre with every pitch he throws from his white-hot glove. Yet, he also seems totally endearing, the type of guy that you want your daughter to marry or who grandmothers would be unable to refrain from pinching his cheek. And on top of that, we learned that he battles with anxiety, which also makes his feel-good story make you feel that much warmer and fuzzier inside. There is nothing not to like about Osuna. How many Jays can you say that about?
Unfortunately, this is where this becomes difficult because for all of the love I will give Osuna that he has earned, I also deep down know one simple fact; relief pitchers are come and go. There are very few cases of relief pitchers in baseball maintaining a high level of success. Even Andrew Miller, who is spoken about as something of folklore, didn’t START to catch this kind of fire until his seventh season in the league when his ERA dropped below 4.00 for the first time in his career. For the vast majority of relievers, success is not usually maintained on a long term basis. Now, could Osuna be one of the very few who manage this type of success out of the bullpen for at least a decade and beyond? Sure, it’s possible. However, it is more likely that eventually, he will, at the very least, come back down to earth. So, rather than holding onto him while the rest of the team begins sliding downhill, why not move him and get something for him while his value is at its peak.
Plus, could you imagine what a team like the Washington Nationals would pay for Osuna? Their bullpen has featured a collection of atrocious arms for a long while, and Osuna would finally provide them with a much-needed shot in the arm, no pun intended. Most importantly, the return would be astronomical.
And that is really what I am advocating for; the return. Watching the Jays this season has been a difficult task and there have been plenty of games that got switched off in the sixth inning after the opposition got a double digit lead. Seeing this, I feel the best course of action is to replenish the farm system and grow with younger talent.
Now while you could argue that Osuna is 22 and fits into the younger talent category, and you’d obviously be correct, he again, however, would bring back a return of at least three or four very useful young pieces. One piece? Or four? I know which one the New York Mets took a few years back when acquiring Travis D’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, and I know which option I want as well.
Once more, I love Osuna, however, when you could get the king’s ransom and a steak dinner for one player, especially playing at the position that is most susceptible to a drop-off in quality, it is an option that seriously needs to be exhausted.
So if you’re the Jays, what do you want? Well, you obviously want a pitching prospect back first, that’s a given, so there’s one piece. Next, you want at least one outfielder for the future, with Jose Bautista aging and there already is a hole in left field that hasn’t had a proper placeholder since Melky Cabrera (sorry Ben Revere, you were the perfect leadoff hitter but in the outfield, you were kind of an adventure). There is piece number two. Thirdly, I am asking for a quality roster player, preferably at second base or shortstop. Troy Tulowitzki has seen his production decline rapidly this season and Devin Travis is far too injury prone for my liking. Personally, I would exhaust the avenue of moving Tulo and Travis before the trade deadline passes if the market will bear a decent return. And lastly, the last piece for sure I want is a quality catcher, ideally who is capable of being a backup now but is also young enough that you may be able to look to him as a potential starter in the future. Those are the four pieces I need back before I even contemplate giving you Roberto Osuna. If the Jays can squeeze a team for more than that, great, but if those four pieces or something equivalent at least isn’t coming the other way, I have very little interest in the deal.
I would, like all Jays’ fans, be very sad to see Osuna go, but looking at this team for what it is, and all its shortcomings this season, every avenue must be exhausted. And while it may not be popular, it may be what is truly needed to give the Jays the foundation of young prospects to build the club into what it was in the early 90’s, what everyone truly wants it to be, and bring another World Series north of the border.