Blue Jays deal Happ, Osuna as deadline looms

The Toronto Blue Jays were obvious sellers heading into the 2018 MLB trade deadline after a disappointing season in which they couldn’t manage to maintain a winning record for any significant amount of time. Whether they could find a decent return for their players was much less certain, but the Blue Jays managed to unload two of their more marketable pitchers in J.A. Happ and Roberto Osuna, making this deadline a productive success even if they stay quiet on deadline day.

Happ was dealt to the New York Yankees, who spent the run up to the deadline mostly shoring up their pitching staff by also adding Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton and Minnesota Twins starter Lance Lynn. While Happ was an All-Star this season for the first time, his selection was more an indication of how unimpressive Toronto has been than anything else. The reason New York wanted him was his performance against their rivals (and possible playoff opponents) the Boston Red Sox. Happ a career 2.98 earned run average against Boston - his lowest ERA for any team he’s faced for more than 100 innings, and he’s been especially effective in 2018, where he has allowed just one earned run in 10 and two-thirds innings.

Osuna was a more complicated case, which made his trade to the Houston Astros a relief for the Blue Jays. Osuna is coming off a suspension for violating the MLB domestic violence policy and the incident in question is still before the courts. While the talented young reliever will be eligible to return to the mound on Saturday, Toronto decided his off-field indiscretions were not worth the hassle and made a point of shopping him in recent weeks. The Astros were desperate enough for bullpen help to look past Osuna’s issues and leave the Blue Jays with a package that seems better than what was expected.

Toronto received Brandon Drury and and prospect Billy McKinney from New York in exchange for Happ, while Houston gave the Blue Jays a package of three pitchers including prospect Hector Perez for Osuna. The return of McKinney and Perez allows Toronto to feel good about the future despite not moving struggling star Josh Donaldson, and moving Osuna is a load off of the Blue Jays’ collective psyche.

The biggest name still floating around on the market for Tuesday’s deadline is Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals. Harper has been decidedly more human at the plate this year compared to the rest of his career, but he is still a fearsome slugger even at his worst, and if Washington is serious about trading him to avoid dealing with his expiring contract, he should fetch a significant return from a contending team, but his departure would also be the Nationals’ way of giving up on a season where they were expected to win their division and once again contend in the postseason.