Handling Roberto Osuna’s Suspension in Fantasy Baseball

Dave Cherman takes a look at how you should handle Roberto Osuna's suspension in fantasy baseball.

Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard the news that Roberto Osuna accepted a 75 game suspension yesterday for domestic violence charges. Whenever a suspension like this is handed down, there are two phases of thought for a fantasy owner: (1) is it morally acceptable for me to roster a player like this? and (2) If yes, how do I go about it? There are many who stop at the first question; what Roberto Osuna is alleged to have done is worthy of condemnation and some fantasy owners don’t want to roster a player like that, as rostering the player seems like tacit approval of what that player did. Others, however, feel that what a player does or does not do is not a fantasy owner’s business; in particular, if you play in a money league, you need to get production from wherever it comes. If you’re of that opinion, the question remains: how do you manage the suspension?

Osuna’s suspension dates back to May 8th when he was put on the administrative leave list, meaning he’ll be eligible to return August 5th, exactly six weeks from today. In both ESPN and Yahoo leagues, Osuna is now designated as Suspended, meaning to hold onto him, you have to use a bench roster spot. I can’t quite tell you whether or not that spot is worth using on him, but rather I will lay out all the considerations that would go into such a decision. Before getting into them, I’m sure many of you are here because you have been holding Osuna since early May- he’s still owned in 30.4% (down 8.1% in the last 24 hours) of ESPN leagues and 43% of Yahoo- and can’t bear to cut bait now, now that you finally have a resolution of the issue. I get that, but it might be the difference between solidly making the playoffs and possibly missing it, but with Osuna. Or maybe you’re here because Osuna was dropped in your league and you want to see if he’s worth picking up. Let’s take a look:

  1. Osuna’s talent level/ role
    1. Osuna was drafted as a top 5 closer. In fact, right before the suspension began, our own Rick Graham ranked him as the #5 closer in baseball. That’s the caliber of player that will significantly impact your chances of winning your league. If you’ve been struggling to find reliability in a patchwork bullpen because you smartly believe in the “don’t pay for saves” moniker, this could be a cheap way to find saves that will be back on your roster at the time when perhaps you need them most. If you own him, it may be possible to flip him to a team that desperately needs saves as the date gets closer. Remember, he’s barred from all team facilities, but that doesn’t mean he’s not been working out and staying in game shape.
    2. There is some concern that the Jays will come to an agreement with him that will pay him his salary but keep him out for the rest of the season to avoid PR issues. Alternatively, there’s concern along the same lines that he will be held out of the closer role for some time for the same reasons. I expect Tepera to be dealt by the deadline, but the consensus from what I’ve gathered is that Canadians are a lot less forgiving of an incident like this than Americans (how quickly we’ve forgiven and forgotten about Aroldis Chapman and Jeurys Familia). So keep in mind, there’s a certain amount of risk that he will not be the closer the rest of this season.
    3. Along those same lines, there’s also a growing belief that he will be traded much like Chapman was after his incident. If that were to happen, his value would be dependent on where he gets traded. If the Astros acquire him, it’s likely he becomes the closer. I’m doubtful that he would be thrust into a high leverage role right away with a new team for PR reasons.
  2. Availability of bench spots
    1. Everyone knows Osuna’s talent, I don’t have to convince you of that. But if you’re in a shallow league with one or two bench spots, it’s hard to justify holding a player in one who is completely unproductive. Where the league allows for deeper rosters, the decision becomes significantly easier. I like to view a suspended player similar to a disabled list player, but one who is out for roughly half to 3/4 the time. If I had five bench spots, would I use a bench spot on Osuna if he were on the DL for the next 3-4 weeks with a relatively minor issue? Probably. But it also depends on the next factor. Keep in mind as we go that as more time passes, his value only goes up. The cost of that bench spot goes down if you pick him up, say, in two weeks versus right now.
  3. Size of your league
    1. This is perhaps the largest factor to me; the difference between carrying Osuna in a shallow 8 team league vs an 18 teamer is massive. If you’re in a shallow league, Osuna’s production is probably close to replaceable. By that, I don’t mean that you can find someone who is as good as Osuna on the wire. Rather, it’s about ROS production. Osuna is set to miss 6 of the remaining 8-10 weeks (depending on your league schedule) of the fantasy regular season but is eligible for the fantasy playoffs. In that league setup, it’s more likely that you can find someone who will give you more saves and Ks over the next 8-10 weeks than Osuna, whereas in a super deep league, that’s less of a guarantee. If you’re in a 14+ team league with an adequate number of bench spots, I think you have to ride out Osuna’s suspension. Fewer teams than that and you start to get into serious consideration about dropping him.
  4. Team record
    1. If you’re in a dogfight for a playoff spot, it’s hard to justify losing a bench spot for six weeks on Osuna. To the contrary, if you’re clearly in first place and can afford to potentially lose a close week or two, Osuna is a lot more worth the risk. In the former scenario, I’d be exploring a trade with the team at the top of the league to see if they’re willing to take on the unproductive Osuna. Keep in mind that his value will only go up as the summer progresses and his return nears.
  5. Keeper/Dynasty Considerations
    1. In many ways, redraft leagues are much easier to manage because you don’t have to think about anything in the long term. If you’re in a dynasty league, however, the decision is painfully easy, you can’t drop Osuna. His long-term value is way too high to let go of for nothing. In a limited keeper situation, you have to weigh considerations such as the cost of keeping him and his value in your format. Perhaps he has keeper value and, in conjunction with the team record consideration, you want to ship him off or acquire him.
  6. Replacement Value
    1. If you’ve made the decision that you want to drop Osuna, the last step in consideration is “who would you drop Osuna for?” My biggest pet peeve in fantasy is the question “should I add X player?” or “is Y player droppable?” It all depends on who the new player is, and that player’s value to your team. So if you’re set on dropping Osuna, make sure the player you’re adding is one who adds value to your team and you’re not just dropping him because his subjective value is down.

Every league is different and every owner is in a different situation with their team- I wish there were a simple yes or no answer to whether you should roster Osuna at this point. However, I will say that if you’re in the school of thought that’s fine owning him, he needs to be owned once you get about three weeks out from his return, IE about July 14th.

Dave Cherman

Across the Seams Manager, also a former player and umpire and New York-based lawyer who spends his free time studying advanced statistics and obsessing over fantasy trades. Will debate with you about most anything.

6 responses to “Handling Roberto Osuna’s Suspension in Fantasy Baseball”

  1. Bret says:

    I play in a 12 team keeper league that uses SVH with a 350 cap. Its a deeper league than most as we have expanded rosters (29 active slots plus 4 DL and ten minors) i drafted osuna for 26 dollars which is not keepable in my league for 2019. i held onto him for several weeks debating which way to go because MLB did not give a clear indication of his status. Some ppl thought he would lose the rest of the year while others thought he would be able to return. I am currently in second place 1.5 pts out of first but I traded two minors (Soto and Adames) for Gerritt Cole ($24) and had to drop Osuna to make space. This was about two weeks ago. An owner in bottom half of the league picked him up for a buck. I dont regret dropping him as he was untradeable at that time and I had to make a decision but if I knew he would come back on Aug 4 i probably would have dropped a couple of more bucks on faab to get him back. Its hard to make decisions in fantasy baseball when we have really incomplete information. We read articles all day long but in reality none of us knows what the insider info is. You just do your best.

    • Dave Cherman says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Every article you read is just a hypothesis; someone trying to use incomplete information to make a reasonable stab at the truth. Ultimately, I think you made the right call, especially if dropping him opened up the $26 salary.

  2. J.C. Mosier says:

    Great analysis, but here are some minor corrections: Osuna last appeared Sun 6 May. He suspension is retroactive to the date that he was arrested and placed on admin leave, Tue 8 May — the Jays’ 36th game. He is eligible to return for their 111th game, which right now would be Sun 5 Aug.


  3. theKraken says:

    (1) – what? fantasy morality lol
    Glad I cut him a month ago. I had a feeling this would be lengthy.

    • Dave Cherman says:

      I don’t blame you. I’ve been holding him in an NA spot because it didn’t cost me anything. Now he’s gone from NA to Suspended, so I had to make a decision.

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