The Toronto Blue Jays attempted to make a big splash in the trade market on Friday and succeeded. The Blue Jays acquired outfielder Daulton Varsho from the Arizona Diamondbacks, in exchange for outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and recent top prospect catcher Gabriel Moreno.
This transaction has Blue Jays Nation in waves of perspectives and feelings, including myself. I would say I’m 40 percent in favor and 60 percent not in favor of this deal as of right now. Many, including myself, assumed that Danny Jansen or Alejandro Kirk would be the catching piece to be moved, as each of the three backstops carried value in the market; I was clearly wrong about this and the direction of the future on-field pieces.
That being said, this isn’t a bad move whatsoever. There are many pros and cons to the deal. What’s in it for Toronto?
Varsho, a 26-year-old outfielder, originates from Marshfield, Wisconsin, and was selected in the 2nd round of the 2017 MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Varsho debuted in the Majors on the 30th of July 2020. Varsho is talented, and was a top 100 prospect name prior to his come-up. He swings from the left side, throws from the right side, comes with raw power at the plate, the ability to hit gap-to-gap and the occasional long ball. He’s a good defender, with the ability to field each of the outfield spots as well as catcher.
Blue Jays: Pros to the Deal
Let’s start with this: I’m a supporter of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., his profile as a ball player, his tools, his drive to succeed, and his on-boarding story. However, after the departure of Teoscar Hernández, Gurriel was ultimately the right piece to move. The 29-year-old had some details of his contract under some uncertainty recently with the news ultimately coming out he is a free agent at the end of the 2023 season.
Daulton Varsho is 26-years-old and signed through 2027. Although I dislike comparing single seasons between players, Varsho finished 2022 with 27 homeruns, 74 RBI, 16 stolen bags, scoring 79 times. Let’s also remember, Varsho is able to catch, along with his primary outfield duties. Gurriel only hit out 5 shots, with 52 RBI, 3 stolen bags, and 52 runs. Varsho did have more at-bats, however, this was due to better health, as Gurriel was battling a reoccurring hamstring problem.
Varsho seems to be more polished and switched on, offensively, allowing his team to be in positions to score runs. Gurriel Jr has tools to compete but a change in clubhouse environment is also needed. The Blue Jays held a family-type bond between players, as you can see on television. That being said, it did not seem like the seriousness and focus was all there on the game. I said this all year, the Blue Jays are men, playing the children’s game, when you compare the level of play and attitude to clubs like the Astros, Yankees, and others. The shake up in the outfield was needed in this case, and I think both players could be of great help to their new clubs.
Blue Jays: Cons to the Deal
Despite gaining a competitive class player, the Blue Jays surrendered their most prized future star. The baseball critics will say nonsense such as Gabriel Moreno is overrated, that he won’t live up to the hype, and that he’s not worth retaining. I’ll say it again, Moreno probably would have been the best offensive and athletic catcher we’ve had. Whether true or not, we’ll never know. His tools and profile were unarguable, and his makeup held hopes for high future projections.
It Is totally understandable that the Blue Jays want a shot at winning now, and their rivals are making moves to counter that; however, taking such a prospect out of your system will affect the growth of the organization in the long run. The Blue Jays will have to depend on the international signing period, the MLB Amateur draft and/or the general free agent market to supplement a future catcher for longevity and development.