By Cole Shelton
Canadian Baseball Network
The Toronto Blue Jays sent shockwaves through the majors on Monday by sending All-Star closer Roberto Osuna to the Houston Astros for Ken Giles and two pitching prospects.
Osuna was supposed to be a huge part of the Blue Jays for the next several years at the back end of the bullpen. Ultimately, Osuna was arrested and charged with domestic violence and suspended for 75 games by Major League Baseball. With his suspension coming to an end on Saturday, the Blue Jays had to decide whether or not to have him on the roster or trade him. General manager Ross Atkins and company decided on the latter.
Before the trade was made it was likely that Osuna’s trade value was diminished, but the value the Blue Jays got in return for the closer was decent.
Toronto acquires: RHP Ken Giles, RHP Hector Perez and RHP David Paulino
Houston acquires: RHP Roberto Osuna
After the trade of J.A. Happ and Seunghwan Oh, Atkins said the priority for the Blue Jays was to get pitching prospects and they received two in this trade, along with Ken Giles who is a former All-Star closer.
Giles comes to Toronto after struggling this season. After a dominant 2017 regular season as the closer for the World Series champion Astros, it was expected Giles would return to that role. However, Giles got out to an awful start and his emotions showed throughout the season.
Looking past his 4.99 ERA, 1.27 WHIP in just 30 2/3 innings this season the 27-year-old has still pitched quite well. The right-hander relies on a fastball and a slider and even though he is allowing a lot of runs, the former All-Star is using those pitches effectively. In 2018, Giles is getting hitters to chase 32.7% of the time which is up from last season while still getting hitters to whiff 30.8% of the time, the same rate as his rookie season in 2015 when he was a dominant reliever for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Not only is Giles getting hitters to chase and whiff on balls, he is still throwing his slider at an elite rate this season. He is throwing his slider to a .128 batting average and a .277 slugging percentage while getting hitters to whiff 53.9% of the time and throws it for a strike 44.7%.
At times this season, the right-hander has pitched like an elite reliever and if he can get back to that the Blue Jays will be lucky as he is under team control through 2020.
While Giles is the known name in the trade, the big catch might be promising right-hander Hector Perez. Perez is currently is the Astros 10th best prospect and has pitched fairly well this season as a starter, but he may be a reliever in the big leagues.
Perez, 22, started the campaign in double-A before being demoted to high-A where he has pitched to a 3-3 record in 17 games, 11 starts with a 3.84 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 72 2/3 innings pitched.
The 22-year-old righty is a highly touted because of his stuff. Perez can throw his fastball around 94-99 MPH while having a two-seamer that has some good sink on it. Not only does Perez already have those two pitches, he also throws a curveball and a slider, and all four are rated average to high according to most of the scouting sites.
There is a chance Perez can stick as a starter but if he turns into a reliever he already has nasty stuff.
While Perez still needs a little work, David Paulino can go straight to triple-A Buffalo and most likely be an August or September call-up depending on if the Blue Jays move multiple relievers.
Paulino pitched in the big leagues in 2016 and 2017 for the Astros, making one start in 2016 and six in 2017. However, while Paulino was climbing through the ranks he received an 80-game suspension for PED use which derailed his season and his prospect status dropped.
The right-hander is still starting at triple-A and will provide the Blue Jays with another option as a starter in the minor-leagues but Paulino could also fill a bullpen role which the hard-throwing hurler may be better suited for.
Ultimately, the Blue Jays got quite a package in return for the suspended Osuna as all three seem likely to at least pitch in the majors very soon. There is a lot to like about this trade for the Blue Jays and a big part of it is getting rid of Osuna who management obviously felt uncomfortable keeping.
Toronto’s grade: A