2. July 30th, 2021
Blue Jays receive: RHP Jose Berrios
Minnesota Twins receive: INF/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson
One of the biggest trades of Ross Atkins’s career as a general manager happened at last season’s trade deadline. With reports and rumours of the Jays being linked to the Minnesota Twins starting pitcher, the two sides eventually agreed on a deal that saw two top prospects pack their bags for Minnesota and Berrios head North of the border.
For the Jays, they acquired a veteran right-handed pitcher who had a year and a half of contract control through arbitration, which is ultimately why two top prospects were needed to get the deal done. The Blue Jays acquired an absolute workhorse in Berrios, appearing in 190+ innings over the past three seasons (excluding the shortened 2020 campaign). After joining his new ball club, the 27-year-old helped solidify the rotation and finished the year with a 3.84 ERA and a 1.095 WHIP through 12 starts and 70.1 innings.
Considered by some to be an overpay, the Blue Jays were sending their 2020 first-round pick in Austin Martin, who was dubbed one of the best pure hitters of the draft that year.
While he bounced around defensively trying to find a position to call his own, Martin was hitting the ball well in AA New Hampshire, earning a .807 OPS and a .281/.424/.383 slash line and 16 RBI with nine stolen bases through 56 games before being dealt. After the trade, Martin saw his slash line drop a bit (.254/.399/.381 and .779 OPS) but overall posted a solid first season in professional baseball. I talked about Woods-Richardson earlier at #7 as part of the Stroman deal but to recap, he started off well with the Jays in AA but fell on hard times midway through the campaign and couldn’t regain his composure.
Coming in at #2, acquiring Berrios was the big flashy move the Blue Jays needed to try and make the postseason in 2021. While they fell just short of their playoff goals, they started the offseason strong by extending the former Twins starter to a seven-year deal worth $131 million with an opt-out after the fifth year. This was the big gamble the Jays were taking by sending Martin and SWR to Minnesota in that Berrios was eligible for free agency after this upcoming season, but now that he is signed to a long term deal, the risk is gone and the loss of both prospects hurts a lot less.
Obviously, this has the potential to turn a few different ways as Martin and SWR keep developing but the outlook and overall ranking are good on this deal, as the addition of Berrios to a long term deal helps solidify the rotation over the next few seasons with Hyun Jin Ryu (next two years only), Alek Manoah, and Kevin Gausman also on the roster. High risk turned into a high reward.