The dichotomy between wanting and having a shutdown closer is fascinating. Every team wants a bona fide closer; on the other hand, some teams which have shutdown closers can’t wait to cash in and deal them away.
For years, the Blue Jays were in constant search of a closer. Now, they’ve found one in Roberto Osuna. But for how long?
That question was posed by Jonah Keri in this interesting piece he wrote for Sportsnet, where he wondered whether now is the time for the Blue Jays to sell high on Osuna.
Every point Keri made in his piece is salient; closers are certainly fleeting and there always seems to be one team at the trade deadline or the offseason which is willing to pay a king’s ransom for a closer. Relievers are volatile, they often break down and this year’s “sure-thing” is next year’s “what if”.
Just because the Jays could get a lot for Osuna, should they?
Given where the Blue Jays are in the standings right now, it’s hard pass from me. Osuna on the Blue Jays gives them a better chance to win; subtracting him from the roster in the midst of a playoff race is a non-starter.
But the conversation changes slightly if the Blue Jays begin to fall out of contention. If they’re suddenly out of it close to the end of July, is it time to sell on guys like Osuna?
I don’t doubt the Jays could get a lot for him on the trading block, but ultimately, I think he’s much more valuable to the Blue Jays.
At this moment, Osuna is under team control until the end of the 2020, which is three-plus more years. He’s due to hit arbitration next year, and given his wealth of success the first two years in the league, he’s due for an exorbitant raise in the coming years.
Osuna’s value has never been higher than it is right now. He’s on an incredible run (one which Israel Fehr of The Athletic broke down) and Osuna is pitching better than ever.
If another team is calling the Blue Jays and offering a bevvy of prospects, it might be tempting for Ross Atkins to contemplate that offer. But I can’t envision the haul being too irresistible for the Blue Jays to suddenly say “yes”.
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There’s a lot that could go wrong with Osuna between now and the end of 2020. He could get injured or he could suddenly just lose it – as relievers often do. But right now, he’s a top-end reliever who’s approaching the apex of his value on the trade market.
As sexy as it would be to make a blockbuster move of this magnitude, as great as it would be to rake in any number of prospects in return for Osuna, it isn’t the right move for the Blue Jays right now. The operative part of that phrase being “right now”.
The bullpen has been the one area of the Blue Jays which hasn’t been in limbo most of the season. The trio of Ryan Tepera, Joe Smith along with Osuna have combined to become a shutdown relief corps for the Blue Jays. Yanking Osuna out of that equation right now weakens the bullpen and weakens the Blue Jays.
Much like the possibility of dealing Josh Donaldson, I feel like these trade discussions become more plausible this offseason. Trade talks in the winter months seem much more methodical. In-season, it’s very difficult to gauge a team’s week-to-week motivations throughout June and July.
Most clubs are still in it, including the Blue Jays; a team which is teetering towards buying rather than selling at the trade deadline. So you can understand their reluctance to move a mainstay from the back-end of their bullpen.
Osuna could fetch the Blue Jays a boatload of prospects if the team put their 22-year-old closer on the market. But the Blue Jays have to ask themselves what’s more important here; the chance to contend in the short-term or the allure of restocking the farm system with high-end prospects.
For now, I don’t believe the Blue Jays will entertain the idea of trading Osuna. His value is incredibly high right now, I won’t argue that, but it’s far too soon to pull the parachute on a deal like this.
Don’t panic; I wouldn’t expect the Blue Jays to trade Roberto Osuna.