SEATTLE -- Before finalizing the deal to acquire All-Star closer Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays, Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said the club performed "unprecedented" due diligence, including asking for permission to speak directly to Osuna, as well as reaching out to several members
SEATTLE -- Before finalizing the deal to acquire All-Star closer Roberto Osuna from the Blue Jays, Astros president of baseball operations and general manager Jeff Luhnow said the club performed "unprecedented" due diligence, including asking for permission to speak directly to Osuna, as well as reaching out to several members of his own team.
As news of the trade, which was announced Monday, started to spread, Astros manager AJ Hinch also gathered his team for a meeting in the visitor's clubhouse at Safeco Field prior to the game against the Mariners to address the trade, in which the Astros acquired Osuna in exchange for right-handed pitchers Ken Giles, David Paulino and Hector Perez, all of whom are in the Minor Leagues.
Osuna is currently working on a rehab assignment while serving a 75-game suspension under the MLB-MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse policy. His suspension will end Sunday. Osuna is also still facing domestic assault charges in Canada for alleged crimes against his girlfriend.
Osuna, 23, will join the Astros in Los Angeles on Sunday, when he's expected to address his new teammates. The Astros will make a corresponding 25-man roster move at that time.
"We did a lot of work on this deal over the course of not just the past few days, but past weeks," Luhnow said. "We are confident the player understands the magnitude of what he's been charged with and is remorseful about what has occurred and proactively has taken steps to address any of his past behavior …
"We do feel like the Houston Astros and the city of Houston will provide Roberto with an environment that will enable him to get a fresh start and get back to focusing on pitching and hopefully help us win going forward. And also allow him to continue down the path he is on right now towards putting what happened behind him and making sure that nothing like this ever happens like this again in the future, which we all hope is the right outcome."
Luhnow said the Astros support Major League Baseball's policies regarding domestic violence and referenced the case of Minor League outfielder Danry Vasquez, who was released by the club in 2016 after the team obtained video of him assaulting a woman at Double-A Corpus Christi.
When the video was released in March, Astros pitchers Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers took to Twitter to express disgust with Vasquez. Verlander held his ground Monday when asked about acquiring Osuna.
"It's a tough situation," he said. "I think the thing for us to remember here is that the details haven't come to light. We don't know the whole story. Obviously, I've said some pretty some inflammatory things about stuff like this in the past and I stand by my words, but I think with an ongoing case as is this one, it's kind of see what happens. It will be interesting. I think he plans to talk with us when he gets here, and we'll go from there and see what happens."
Hinch spoke to Osuna and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons after the deal was made. He said he addressed the team to let them know Luhnow and Osuna would be in Los Angeles for this weekend's series against the Dodgers and they would "get together as a family would" to help incorporate Osuna into the team.
"From the baseball side, it's hard to argue there's a [better] young reliever who's been dominant in his career and has been very good at the back end of games," Hinch said. "That comes with some extra topics we're going to have to address as a team. As we get to know him and know the situation, we'll know more about it."
Hinch said Osuna was "very excited" and "very appreciate of the organization" for giving him an opportunity.
"He was very thankful to me, to Jeff, to anybody involved," Hinch said. "He just wanted to say 'thank you' 10 or 12 different times. It was a 'yes sir,' 'no sir' conversation. It was very respectful. He was very remorseful for being a distraction on his first entrance on a team, but he can't wait to get started."
Luhnow said one of the pre-conditions before finalizing the trade was having an opportunity to speak to Osuna, whom he had never met before. He asked Toronto for permission, and the two had a lengthy conversation. He wouldn't disclose the details of what they talked about it.
"But suffice it to say, I came out of that conversation with what I wanted to accomplish," he said. "I wanted to get to understand Roberto as a person a little bit more and hear more about his thoughts, where he was today, what his plans are for the future, what he plans to do when he gets to Houston. All the things I was looking to hear from him, I did. I was very happy with that conversation."
Luhnow also reached out personally to several of Osuna's former teammates, friends and acquaintances to get a better picture of him as a person. He also said he took the temperature of several members of his clubhouse to get their assessment. Shortstop Carlos Correa said six-time All-Star Jose Altuve was one of those consulted.
"Some of those are steps we would have taken for any player but because the situation was more charged and we knew it was going to be more controversial, we wanted to be sure as best we could we were making the best decision," Luhnow said. "We understand there's going to be a lot of people that don't agree with this decision and we understand that and appreciate that, and we wanted to go the extra mile that if we were to acquire this player that we felt as good about it as we possibly can given the circumstances."
Before his arrest in early May, Osuna was widely regarded as one of the game's most exciting and valuable young relief pitchers. A native of Mexico, he joins the Astros after a four-year start to his career with the Blue Jays, including an All-Star appearance in 2017. This season, Osuna appeared in 15 games for the Blue Jays, posting nine saves and a 2.93 ERA.
"I am excited to join the Houston Astros and move forward with a fresh start to my career," Osuna said in a statement released by Houston. "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."
Hinch said Osuna will throw in a Minor League game later this week at Double-A or Triple-A before joining the team Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
Giles, the hard-throwing former closer who struggled to find consistency in Houston, was sent to Triple-A earlier this month after TV cameras caught him using a curse word directed at Hinch while being removed from a game. In May, Giles punched himself in the face while walking off the mound after giving up four runs against the Yankees.
After coming to Houston in a seven-player trade in December 2015 that included the Astros sending former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel to the Phillies, Giles never found his footing in Houston. He appeared in 166 games with the Astros and had 61 saves and a 3.57 ERA.
"The success he had with us was really important for our ascent to the World Series title," Hinch said. "He's had some blowups and needs a fresh start and will get that in Toronto. He's a good Major League pitcher. He had his peaks and valleys with us, but I don't know we get to the World Series without them last year."
On Friday, the Astros acquired relief pitcher Thomas Pressly from the Twins in exchange for a pair of prospects. The Astros added Pressly and Osuna to a bullpen that currently includes Hector Rondon, Will Harris, Chris Devenski, Collin McHugh, Brad Peacock, Joe Smith and Tony Sipp. One of them likely won't be with the club on Sunday.
"There's decisions to be made moving forward," Hinch said.
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.