Along with Kirk, Daulton Varsho is the other player feeling a pressure which is outside of his control. That's because he's the player the Blue Jays believed was worthy of giving up Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for.
Before we look at the pressure aspect further though, it's worth considering where Varsho excelled. More specifically on defence, which you can argue he played better than anyone else in the Majors during 2023.
This was best highlighted by the 27-year-old leading all players with 29 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). By extension, he helped the Blue Jays also lead the way as a team with 85 DRS, which was 17 ahead of the nearest competitor. (All statistics as per Fielding Bible.)
In addition, as per ESPN, Varsho ranked second in all of baseball with a 2.8 dWAR, ironically only behind Moreno's 3.1. He was also consistent and durable, with just one error all season while leading the Blue Jays in games played on defence.
Given all this, you can understand why there was an outcry when the 2017 second round draft pick was snubbed for a Gold Glove. As teammate Chris Bassitt put it, only baseball could be so stupid not to award one to a player who lead the league in DRS.
So with all this, why exactly do we consider Varsho to be under so much pressure next year? Simply put it comes down to his offence, or lack thereof, in 2023.
The Marshfield, Wisconsin native took a step back with his bat this past season, as he had his lowest slash line, OPS and OPS+ since his rookie year. And yet it wasn't all bad, as he was tied for third on the team in home runs, third in stolen bases and fifth in RBI.
The reality is that the increased pressure on Varsho to perform better offensively, simply comes down to how well the players he came in for, did during 2023 in Arizona. He does need to be better next year, but the reality is he almost has unfair expectations placed on him through no fault of his own.