An assault charge against Astros closer Roberto Osuna was dropped on Tuesday. What does this mean for the organization?
When the Houston Astros traded for Roberto Osuna in July, they did so knowing his situation. He was charged with assault in an alleged domestic violence incident in Canada. He was serving a 75-game suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. And there was a chance the situation could get worse as more facts came to light.
On Tuesday, the Astros got some good news. The assault charge was withdrawn in exchange for Osuna agreeing to a peace bond, which forbids him from contacting the alleged victim and mandates that he continue counseling. He must comply with the terms of the bond for one year or face criminal charges.
What It Means Now
The Astros undoubtedly took a PR hit when trading for a player serving such a suspension. They were essentially gambling on his performance on the mound outweighing any negative repercussions of his actions. This outcome seemingly represents a best-case-scenario for the Astros front office.
The charge being withdrawn means there will be no trial, which means the cold hard facts of the situation might never be made public. While we don’t know much about what actually happened, MLB knew enough to suspend Osuna for nearly half the season. The Blue Jays knew enough to jettison a 23-year-old All-Star for a much smaller return than he otherwise would have commanded.
GM Jeff Luhnow was quoted by ESPN as saying the case had been “a distraction for everybody” and that the club was “thankful it’s behind us now and we can focus on what’s ahead.” This is undoubtedly true, as the front office wanted nothing more than to have the matter settled. Without this case hanging over their heads, Osuna and the team can focus solely on baseball.
What It Means For The Future
If nothing else happens with this going forward, the Astros have seemingly come out of it in pretty good shape. They weathered the initial PR storm and now have an elite closer. There will always be a stain on the club in the eyes of many fans, but that might be the worst of it.
However, there’s always a risk of unflattering details coming to light. If someone involved with the case talks to the media, it could spawn a whole new storm along the lines of what the NFL experienced when the Ray Rice video came out. That’s a worst-case scenario, and that possibility will never completely disappear.
As for the fans and observers who took issue with the team acquiring Osuna, time will tell how they respond. Some may never come back to root for the Astros, while others may support the team, but not Osuna. The Astros evidently decided they can live with that if it means winning another championship.
No matter what happens going forward, there are some consequences the Astros organization will shoulder as long as Osuna is on the roster. Thanks to Tuesday’s outcome, the consequences may not be as bad as they could have been. In the front office’s eyes, the gamble may very well pay off.