Blue Jays: Why I love the Daulton Varsho trade

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks / Norm Hall/GettyImages

The Toronto Blue Jays made waves on Friday afternoon by trading Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Daulton Varsho.

Early reviews of the trade have been mixed, but a section of the fanbase doesn't approve. That’s understandable, Gurriel Jr. is a gifted hitter with a big arm who has become a fan favorite and Moreno is an ascending talent who has superstar potential.

But Varsho has a diverse skill set and could be just what the team needs; a left-handed power bat with elite defensive skills and team control until 2027.

He may not be as big of a name as a guy like Bryan Reynolds, but Varsho has some real thunder in his swing. He hit 27 homers last season and could easily top that mark playing half of his games at Rogers Centre. 

When Kevin Kiermaier was signed, it was a clear move to improve run production, and although he’s been a decent hitter, the belief was that the Jays would still pursue another power-hitting outfielder.

Not only does Varsho add thump to an already impressive lineup, but he also gives them the ability to field one of the best defensive outfields in the majors

Kiermaier’s defensive talents are well-known and Varsho has emerged as one of the best outfielders around and had an Outs Above Average (OAA) of 18 plus a 2.0 dWAR in 2022. The move also allows George Springer to slide over to right field while continuing to get at-bats as a designated hitter.  

Varsho’s ability to be an occasional catcher is a tremendous luxury and will help Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen over the course of a long season. And if one of them gets hurt, it saves having to use a roster spot to call up a catcher from Triple-A.

Losing Moreno hurts and the inclusion of Gurriel in the trade was surprising, he will be missed. But we knew the Blue Jays would almost certainly move one of their catchers, and Moreno’s development trajectory doesn’t necessarily line up with a team whose championship window is wide open right now. 

Gurriel has worked hard to make himself an above-average fielder and he’s been among the leaders in outfield assists over the last couple of years. He also adjusted his approach at the plate, which increased his batting average but also saw his home run numbers plummet from 24 in 2021 to just five in 2022. It’s also worth noting that the Jays had their best stretch of play late in the season when Gurriel was nursing a wrist injury.

These were two players the franchise could afford to trade away, Varsho is just approaching his prime and could be the piece that takes this team over the top.

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