The Toronto Blue Jays have made another significant offseason trade.
After previously sending longtime outfielder Teoscar Hernandez to the Seattle Mariners for pitching help, general manager Ross Atkins and his team moved fellow outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and the team’s top prospect Gabriel Moreno to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for outfielder Daulton Varsho.
“From a personality and teammate standpoint, he is a hard-nosed gamer that loves the process, loves the work,” Ross Atkins said of Varsho on Saturday. “It would be hard for him to be better as a defender.”
With a surplus of catchers, the Jays moved Moreno, while the D’backs’ rotating outfield should not suffer much in moving on from one of its handful of position players.
“I’ve never been in a situation like his, where we had so much interest in all of the catchers,” Atkins added. “Every single catcher had significant interest from every team. That put us in a strong position to look for a more ideal fit and not just a good value deal. We were able to do it.”
The deal may appear to be a win for Arizona to the untrained eye, but a number of variables certainly sway the pull in Toronto’s favour.
Any time a team’s ‘No. 1 prospect’ is dealt, heavy scrutiny on the return is at the forefront.
Toronto has now done this twice in the past year, as it first moved infielder Jordan Groshans to Miami as part of the return in the Anthony Bass, Zach Pop deal. This time it was the strong-armed Moreno who drew the short straw.
Around Full Press Coverage
FULL PRESS BETS: NFL MVP Odds: Patrick Mahomes Leapfrogs Josh Allen For Top Spot
FANTASY FOOTBALL: Fantasy Football Value Picks In Every Round
Alongside Moreno, the Jays added an every-day, well-liked member of the outfield. So surely, local fans will know that a star player is heading back as a return, right?
This time, the result of the deal was that of Daulton Varsho.
‘Who?’ you ask.
Having already acquired three-time Gold Glove recipient Kevin Kiermaier by way of free agent signing this past month, the Blue Jays’ outfield appeared to be taking shape. With Kiermaier in centre, George Springer in right, and Lourdes in left.
That changed on Friday, as Gurriel was sent packing.
Ep 103: Tom Brady Retires, Sean Payton To Broncos, Super Bowl Primer
by Full Press Coverage on February 5, 2023 at 3:49 pm
“To acquire a player of this calibre, one of the better players in the game last year, you’re going to have to be uncomfortable,” Atkins said. “Including Lourdes Gurriel in the deal was difficult for us but necessary from their end.”
Enter, Daulton Varsho.
A 26-year-old left-hitting defensive specialist, Varsho has made a name for himself as a versatile fielder over the past three seasons in Arizona.
Suiting up in 283 career games, Varsho is a career .234 hitter. He played in 151 contests last season, hitting 27 home runs and 74 RBIs while maintaining a .235 average to go along with 53 extra-base hits.
But the offensive numbers are not why the Blue Jays added Varsho.
His WAR is ninth-best among Major League outfielders last year. His outs saved and outs saved above average both sat in the Top 10.
Daulton Varsho's 4.6 fWAR would have led the 2022 Blue Jays for position players.
— Ben Ennis (@SportsnetBen) December 23, 2022
He played 77 games as a centre fielder, 70 in right field, 11 in left field, 61 as a catcher and 20 as a designated hitter.
Oh, and the kicker? He has four years of team control left on his contract.
Much like that of Teoscar, Lourdes will be a free agent after next season. He is also dealing with recovery from a hand injury.
Safe to say, adding a guy who would essentially take over for Gurriel anyways, isn’t too bad of a deal when you have the catching depth that the Blue Jays do in Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen. Because let’s face it, who needs three solid catchers when you can have three solid outfielders?
“The impact he’s going to have on our team is going to be on every side of the ball, the base-running impact, the speed, the versatility, elite defence, and the fact he can also catch for us is about as good a fit as we possibly could have found,” Atkins said. “It is the ideal fit for this roster and one we are very excited about.”
Now using a combination of Kevin Kiermaier (centrefield), Daulton Varsho (left field) and George Springer (right field), Toronto will have one of the very best outfields in not on the American League, but all of baseball.
In moving these players, they also did away with some of the distractions that fans have come to see over the past year.
In adding Chris Bassitt, Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho, the Blue Jays went from a team more concerned with hairstyles, home run jackets and sunflower seeds, to becoming a bona fide playoff contender armed with rock solid baseball fundamentals.. and it’s about bloody time.
— Ari Shapiro (@ari_shapiro) December 23, 2022
Having added ultra-utility man Whit Merrifield last season, Toronto does have a backup plan in the outfield should Kiermaier’s surgery recovery extend into the start of the year, or if Springer’s injury history comes into play in 2023.
Cavan Biggio and Santiago Espinal will also serve as backup infielders to the current starters Matt Chapman (3B), Bo Bichette (SS), Merrifield (2B) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1B), while Biggio will provide further outfield backup, when necessary.