The Astros sent their former closer down to the minors earlier this month. On Monday they traded him and added a guy they hope is a long-term solution for the ninth inning.
The defending World Series champions acquired Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays on the eve of the trade deadline and sent Ken Giles and pitching prospects David Paulino and Hector Perez to Toronto. Osuna is still serving a 75-game suspension for domestic violence but will be eligible to return on Sunday.
Osuna’s off-the-field behavior is another conversation, but Houston should be getting an elite closer for the stretch run of the regular season and playoffs. The 23-year-old has posted a 2.87 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 253/40 K/BB ratio over 223 relief innings in his major league career. He also boasts a 1.04 ERA and 16/1 K/BB ratio across 17 1/3 career postseason frames. Osuna might be eased into closing situations initially but should have the job in short order. Hector Rondon will move back into a setup role.
Osuna is still facing domestic assault charges for an alleged crime against his girlfriend. Major League Baseball has the authority to levy further discipline should new information related to the case come out and they deem it worthy of suspension.
The Blue Jays lost a closer in Osuna but gained one in Giles. The volatile reliever has had numerous blowups this season – from both a performance and emotional standpoint – that pushed his ERA up to 4.99 and helped lead to a demotion. However, he also boasts a 31/3 K/BB ratio over 30 2/3 innings this season and a 2.79 ERA with 367 strikeouts over 274 2/3 innings in his career.
Manager John Gibbons has already said that Giles will get an opportunity to be the team’s closer. How soon exactly that happens isn’t known, but it shouldn’t take long. Giles needs to be scooped up in leagues where he was dropped.
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Harper on the Block?
We’ve already had numerous trades go down in the days before Tuesday’s 4PM ET deadline and we’re sure to get plenty more consummated in the hours leading up to it. Will one of them involve a six-time All-Star and former MVP?
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported Monday that the Nationals have let it be known that Bryce Harper “is indeed available via trade.” The Indians are one team that’s reportedly asked the Nats about Harper, although there undoubtedly will be more in the mix if Washington is serious about trading him.
Of course, there’s a big difference between shopping a player and just being willing to listen to offers. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has indicated that this situation certainly falls into the latter category, as he writes that the Nationals are simply sending out “feelers” on Harper, “seeing if someone wants to go crazy,” he was told by a rival executive.
Will the Nats be able to find a team willing to “go crazy” enough to make it worth trading their best position player when they still haven’t ruled out a postseason run? It’s possible, although the returns on rental players in recent years have largely been underwhelming and unless the Nationals get a special package they’ll probably just hang on to their star outfielder.
If the Nationals do wind up trading Harper – likely for pitching help – it means that Michael Taylor would go back to being the club’s regular center fielder. Taylor has almost been a top-50 fantasy outfielder this season, largely due to his 24 stolen bases. However, he’s been marginalized since Juan Soto’s emergence and the return of Adam Eaton from the DL last month. Such a move could also potentially open the door for Victor Robles at some point if Taylor falters. Robles is back in action at Triple-A Syracuse after missing three months with a hyperextended elbow.
Cueto, Martinez Headed Back to DL
Two teams on the outskirts of the playoff hunt have each lost a big-time pitcher and at least one of the absences will be lengthy.
Johnny Cueto was diagnosed with a right elbow sprain back in early May, but he and the Giants chose the rest and rehab route and he rejoined their rotation earlier this month. However, things didn’t go well, as he posted a 6.86 ERA and 1.76 WHIP over four starts and admitted to being sore while showing decreased velocity in an outing Sunday.
Cueto was placed on the disabled list Monday. While Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that there’s “nothing definitive” yet, he conceded that “it's fair to say there's quite a possibility he'll have surgery.”
The surgery the skipper is referring to is Tommy John surgery, and given that Cueto wouldn’t have the operation at least until August, it seems likely that it would knock him out until the 2020 season in all likelihood. Cueto will be 34 going into that campaign and is under contract through 2021 with a club option for 2022. Chris Stratton will replace him in the Giants’ rotation.
Carlos Martinez returned from the DL Monday after missing a week and a half with a strained oblique, but he’s headed back there after lasting just 4 2/3 frames versus the Rockies before being pulled with another injury. A subsequent MRI revealed that he’s dealing with a mild right shoulder strain.
While “mild” is relatively encouraging, this is the second DL stint Martinez has required this season because of a shoulder-related issue. He missed nearly a month of action with a strained lat. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Cardinals hold their ace out for a lengthy period of time, perhaps even for the remainder of the season.
The Cards do have viable options to slide into the rotation in Martinez’s place. Daniel Poncedeleon and Austin Gomber both flirted with no hitters last week before being moved to the bullpen. Gomber would seem to be the likelier option to take Martinez’s spot and would be worth deep-league consideration. There’s also Dakota Hudson, who has had two scoreless relief appearances since being promoted last Friday. Michael Wacha (oblique) and Adam Wainwright (elbow) are also eventual options, although neither of them are close to being ready.
American League Quick Hits: The Red Sox acquired Ian Kinsler from the Angels for relievers Williams Jerez and Ty Buttrey … Jose Ramirez went 2-for-4 with a pair of solo home runs, a steal and a walk in Monday's loss to Twins … Shin-Soo Choo went 2-for-5 with a pair of home runs and four RBI to lead the Rangers to a win over the Diamondbacks on Monday … Making his first start off the DL, James Paxton fired seven scoreless innings and fanned eight batters to lead the Mariners to a win over the Astros on Monday … David Price yielded just one run on eight hits over eight innings while taking a no-decision in Monday's win over the Phillies … Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has reported that the Rays have asked teams interested in Chris Archer to submit their final trade offers … MLB.com's TR Sullivan has reported that the Rangers "don't see Adrian Beltre going anywhere" … Matt Joyce (back) visited the doctor Monday after suffering a setback over the weekend … The Yankees acquired Lance Lynn and cash considerations from the Twins for Tyler Austin and pitching prospect Jose Rijo … The Mariners acquired Zach Duke from the Twins for Chase De Jong and infield prospect Ryan Costello … The Mariners acquired Adam Warren from the Yankees for international signing bonus pool money …
National League Quick Hits: The Pirates acquired Keone Kela from the Rangers for Taylor Hearn and a player to be named later … The Braves acquired Adam Duvall from the Reds for Lucas Sims, Matt Wisler and Preston Tucker … Craig Mish of SiriusXM has reported that the Marlins are not expected to trade J.T. Realmuto … ESPN's Buster Olney has reported that the Mets will not trade Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard prior to Tuesday's deadline … Braves pitching prospect Kolby Allard is expected to be called up to make his major league debut Tuesday against the Marlins … MLB.com's Jon Morosi has reported that the Yankees, Phillies and Indians "have varying levels of interest" in Andrew McCutchen … Nolan Arenado went 2-for-5 with a grand slam in Monday's loss to the Cardinals … Aaron Nola allowed just one run on five hits over eight innings while taking a no-decision in Monday's 13-inning loss to the Red Sox … Jon Heyman of Fancred has reported that the Yankees, Indians and Mariners are interested in Cameron Maybin … DJ LeMahieu (oblique) could be activated from the disabled list as soon as Thursday … Ross Stripling is expected to be sidelined for 10-12 days after being placed on the disabled list with right big toe inflammation … Rockies manager Bud Black said Monday that Chad Bettis (finger) could return as a reliever … David Peralta (shoulder) didn’t start Monday but was available off the bench …