MLB Rumors: Roberto Osuna, closer for the Houston Astros, needs Tommy John surgery, per reports. Osuna, 25, would appear likely to be out until 2022 if he does undergo surgery, although he is apparently getting a second opinion.
This would be the latest blow to a Houston Astros pitching staff that has been injury-riddle so far this season. Justin Verlander is out, and while he denied reports that he has been pronounced done for the year, he appears unlikely to return in 2020. Reliever Chris Devenski was placed on the injured list this past weekend, and Ryan Pressly had been sidelined with a sore elbow, though he is now back. Jose Urquidy is on the COVID list, and Brad Peacock, Joe Biagini and Austin Pruitt are all on the regular injured list. Forrest Whitley, the Astros’ top pitching prospect, is dealing with a sore arm, and doesn’t appear to be an option anytime soon.
The Astros have signed Fernando Rodney, who was pitching for the Sugar Land Skeeters, and Chase de Jong in recent days, and will no doubt be looking for additional reinforcements, particularly for a starting rotation that was rather top-heavy and lacking depth before Verlander went down and Urquidy was sidelined.
Osuna is a free agent after the 2021 season, so if he does have Tommy John surgery, it would likely bring an end to his controversial tenure in Houston. Osuna originally came up with the Toronto Blue Jays, but in 2018, was hit with a 75 game suspension for violating the league’s policy on domestic violence.
Houston acquired Osuna towards the tail end of his suspension in exchange for Ken Giles, Hector Perez and David Paulino. General manager Jeff Luhnow defended the acquisition as being consistent with the team’s stated “zero tolerance” policy towards domestic violence, stating that:
Quite frankly, I believe that you can have a zero-tolerance policy and also have an opportunity to give people second chances when they have made mistakes in the past in other organizations. That’s kind of how we put those two things together.
Luhnow was widely decried as a hypocrite for seemingly creating a loophole in the team’s “zero tolerance” policy that allowed him to scoop up a player for cheap, despite the player being suspended for behavior that the team supposedly doesn’t tolerate.
The Osuna controversy flared back up in October, when Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman loudly shouted, after the Astros won their pennant clinching game against the New York Yankees, “I’m so fucking glad we got Osuna!” repeatedly at a group of female reporters in the locker room, with one in particular, who had expressed displeasure in the past over the Astros acquiring a domestic abuser, seeming to be the target.
After the team initially released a statement defending Taubman and calling the story “completely irresponsible,” accusing the writer of an “attempt to fabricate a story where one does not exist.” After more information revealed that, in fact, the story accurately described what happened, and the Astros received a huge amount of negative press, Taubman was fired.