Transforming from a team that scored 775 runs to a more defensive squad
Clearly the Blue Jays front office has targeted defensive upgrades and run prevention this offseason. They potentially could trot out a lineup full of Gold Glovers including starter José Berríos, C Danny Jansen, 1B Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 2B Whit Merrifield, 3B Matt Chapman, LF Daulton Varsho and CF Kevin Kiermaier. In fact, the Blue Jays are highlighting the fact that Varsho was a Gold Glove finalist in announcing the trade.
The Jays have also now traded away or cut 41 home runs and 202 RBI from their season ending 2022 26-man roster, while adding only 34 home runs and 96 RBI back to the lineup via the Kiermaier signing and the Varsho trade. They’ve also just traded six years of team control of their top prospect - and the top catching prospect in all of MLB - in 22-year-old Gabriel Moreno for four years of control of Daulton Varsho. In fact, Moreno was the top ranked prospect in all of baseball in the July 2022 Baseball America updated ranking.
Moreno’s scouting report per Baseball America (subscription required) notes he has the potential to be a franchise catcher, saying he is an “advanced receiver with a plus throwing arm, and a contact over power approach that’s seen him produce .300 or better averages at every level. Moreno is a .315 career MiLB hitter and he bettered that, hitting .319, in his MLB debut in 2022.” He was also probably the Jays second best contact hitter in his rookie season, striking out only 11% of the time versus Alejandro Kirk’s 10.7%.
So it’s been a radical transformation so far this offseason for this Blue Jays club. They have traded away offense in Hernández, Moreno and Gurriel, for a much improved outfield defense and better ‘swing and miss’ relief pitching. With the end of the shift beginning next season, having fielders who can add value as straight away defenders will be key, which is why the free agent signing of Kiermaier fits with this strategy.