What Are the Braves Thinking?

Tom DubberkeCorrespondent IMarch 31, 2010

Some of the decisions major league organizations make I will never understand.

Today the Royals outrighted 22 year old pitcher Edgar Osuna to their AA club.  The Royals claimed Osuna with the fourth pick of the last Rule 5 Draft, paying the Braves, Osuna’s prior organization, $50,000 in the process.

Osuna wasn’t going to make the Royals’ opening day roster, so they offered Osuna back to the Braves.  For a reason I simply cannot fathom, the Braves were not willing to pay the Royals $25,000 of the $50,000 they received earlier to get Osuna back.

Osuna also cleared waivers, which really isn’t that surprising, because any claiming team would have had to play him at the major level, and he should rightfully be starting the 2010 season in the minors.

The thing I can’t understand is that Osuna at age 21 last year pitched 77.1 innings at the AA level in the Braves system in which he posted a 3.72 ERA.  How is that kind of performance from a player that young not worth $25,000?

In fairness, Osuna’s strikeout rate dropped last year from 2008.  In the Class A Sally League in 2008, Osuna registered 135 Ks in 125.1 IP.  In 2009, in a season roughly equally split between A+ and AA ball, he notched 105 Ks in 150 IP.  However, Osuna still had an exactly 3-to-1 Ks-to-walks ratio in 2009.

By way of comparison, I noted in the previous post that the Tigers had sent veteran pitcher Nate Robertson and $9.6 million of the remaining $10 million remaining on Robertson’s salary to the Marlins for 23 year old minor league lefty Jay Voss.  Voss looks for all the world to me like the same caliber of prospect as Osuna.

Was there something the Braves didn’t like about Osuna’s personality?  Do they have secret information that he’s got a bum arm?  Was someone in the Braves’ front office asleep at the switch?  We’ll probably never know unless Osuna becomes the second Mexican star (after Joaquim Soria) the Royals obtained through the Rule 5 Draft.  Then the exact reason the Braves blew it will likely go down in history.

The odds that Osuna will develop into a major league star aren’t great, of course.  It’s just that $25,000 is peanuts in today’s professional game for any player who played well at the AA level for half a season at age 21.  I hope the Braves end up regretting their decision solely as a matter of principle.