Blue Jays: Are we ready to call the Daulton Varsho Trade a win-win?

Toronto Blue Jays v Kansas City Royals
Toronto Blue Jays v Kansas City Royals / Ed Zurga/GettyImages

We're now two weeks into the MLB season, and one of the Jays biggest offseason acquisitions Daulton Varsho has looked like the perfect addition to the roster. Over in Arizona, Gabriel Moreno has blossomed into quite the defensive weapon, and after a slow start, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has had his offense pick up of late. So without using too much early-season bias, is this trade a rare example of a win-win?

First, let's take a look at what was promised with the acquisition of Varsho and how he's performed relative to those numbers. The outfielder is well regarded as a defender, with baseball savant rating him in the 97th percentile in outfield jump and 99th percentile in Outs Above Average last season. Compare that to this season and his numbers seem to be significantly down; he hasn't had enough fielding opportunities to be rated for outfield jump and only ranks in the 17th percentile in OAA. But there are two main reasons for this: 1) the sun and 2) he's in left field.

You may not believe that a star 149.6 million kilometers away can affect someone's advanced metrics but alas, it has. On April 9th, Varsho would lose a fly ball in the sun, allowing a run to score. Right after that, Hunter Renfroe would mash a two-run homer, putting the Angels up 3-0, due to a play that according to baseball savant should've been made. But eliminating that play, Varsho has been everything the Jays wanted defensively. Another factor is that he's next to Kevin Kiermaier. When you've got an absolute wizard in center field, there's less for you to do, and maybe more time to focus on hitting.

Looking back at Varsho's advanced metrics from 2022, some people worried about his approach at the plate. While he had an effective barrel% and hard hit%, he rarely walked and was prone to chasing pitches and striking out. This season he looks like a whole different hitter. While the strikeouts are still a little high, he's walking at a much better clip (eight in 59 plate appearances compared to 46 all of last season). Add that on to his .286 batting average and 94th-percentile max exit velocity and you have more than an ideal cleanup hitter. These are early season numbers, so it's impossible to take them at face value but on the Jays end of the deal, this seems like an absolute win.

In giving up Varsho, Arizona acquired Moreno and Gurriel, who both have important roles on a Diamondbacks squad that currently sits at 8-6. Gurriel has been batting third, splitting time between left field and DH, and sports a .250 average. His defense continues to be an area of concern, but he's kept the same approach at the plate, which allows him to get on base at a very high rate. He's a free agent after this season, so if Arizona starts to falter he'll be moved for pieces that'll help them in the future, but if the team continues its hot start he'll continue to be a mainstay at the top of their batting order.

Moreno's strong suits have been the opposite of Gurriel's. A victim of Toronto's logjam at catcher, Moreno has slugged to a .229 batting average and the 23-year-old has yet to walk this season (in fact his on-base percentage is lower than his average). Another problem is he has yet to hit for a lot of power with only three extra-base hits in nine games. What Moreno has excelled at is throwing out would-be base stealers. Four out of five runners have been gunned down by the young catcher, and he's yet to commit an error. Once he gets his bat up to the speed it was at while he was in the minors, he appears to be the catcher of the future for the D'Backs and potentially an elite catcher in years to come.

In conclusion, both teams have gotten exactly what they were looking for when they completed the trade. It's rare you find a trade in which both teams benefit, but in this case it seems like both teams came out better than they were before.

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