Jeff Luhnow’s statement on Roberto Osuna rings hollow
The Astros just acquired reliever Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays in exchange for Ken Giles and two minor league pitchers. The 23-year-old Osuna is towards the end of his 75-game suspension which he received for a domestic violence issue nearly three months ago. According to Jon Morosi, the Blue Jays had decided Osuna would not pitch in the majors for them again, so the Astros jumped on the low-price bandwagon and plucked him from the Jays.
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow released a statement on Osuna following the trade. Luhnow said, “We are excited to welcome Roberto Osuna to our team. The due diligence by our front office was unprecedented. We are confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind. Roberto has some great examples of character in our existing clubhouse that we believe will help him as he and his family establish a fresh start and as he continues with the Houston Astros. We look forward to Osuna’s contributions as we head into the back half of the season.”
Let’s start with that “zero tolerance” bit. If the Astros’ truly have a “zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind,” the club never would have even considered acquiring Osuna. To use it now is incredibly disingenuous.
Furthermore, the Astros say that Osuna “has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior,” but he still has a court date scheduled for August 1. According to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Osuna plans to plead not guilty. There is no way for the Astros to say that Osuna “has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior” when he hasn’t had his day in court yet.
In fairness to the Astros, they’re not the only ones who look bad in this whole Osuna ordeal. The Jays look bad for hanging on to him as long as they could get other players in a trade, rather than cutting him immediately. (Remember, MLB and its teams don’t need to wait for a guilty verdict to respond to players accused of domestic violence.) The whole thing about him not pitching in the majors for them was only mentioned after the fact. Major League Baseball looks bad because (accused) domestic abusers are eligible for the postseason despite a suspension while players who are suspended for the use of performance-enhancing drugs are not eligible for the postseason.
This has not been a good two weeks for Major League Baseball. Between inaction regarding players who have used hateful language in the past (Josh Hader, Sean Newcomb, Trea Turner) and the Osuna situation, the league keeps sending the message to fans from marginalized communities that they don’t matter. If MLB truly valued them as fans, the league’s tolerance of the Osunas, Haders, Newcombs, and Turners (and Aroldis Chapmans and Jose Reyeses and... ) of the world would be lower than it actually is.