Blue Jays trade Gabriel Moreno, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to Diamondbacks for Daulton Varsho
Toronto gets an impact left-handed bat and a defensive whiz for its outfield while Arizona receives a potential star at catcher plus a useful veteran
The Toronto Blue Jays are giving their fan base an early holiday present this winter, striking a massive trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday. The Blue Jays agreed to send outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and top catching prospect Gabriel Moreno to Arizona in exchange for outfielder Daulton Varsho.
For much of this offseason, the Blue Jays were expected to address other areas of their roster by trading from their impressive catching depth, and now they’ve done precisely that.
Varsho, under team control through 2026, will replace Gurriel as Toronto’s everyday left-fielder next season. As a result, the 26-year-old will join Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer as the club’s 2023 starting outfield.
The left-hander hit .235/.302/.443 with 27 home runs, 74 RBIs and a 106 wRC+ across 151 games during his third big-league campaign last season. He was also worth a career-best 4.6 fWAR, doubling his rating from 2021.
Defensively, Varsho can play all three outfield positions, spending most of his time in right field in 2022, logging 541.2 innings. He provided elite defence, registering +14 Defensive Runs Saved and +10 Outs Above Average.
Interestingly, he rose through the Diamondbacks’ farm system as a catcher and has remained an option behind the plate upon arriving in the majors, compiling 553.0 career innings there. But with Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk as Toronto's primary catching duo, Varsho will likely be relegated to emergency duties.
Offensively, Varsho bats left. He's coming off the best offensive season of his career, a year where he hit 27 HR with a 109 OPS+. He strikes out a little more than average at 24.1% but barrels the ball more than average, too – 10.2% last yr. Steamer projects a 108 wRC+ for 2023.
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) December 23, 2022
The newest Blue Jay will also likely share playing time with Kiermaier — who signed a one-year, $9-million deal earlier this month — in centre field next season. Together, the duo will dramatically improve the club’s outfield defence.
Acquiring Varsho comes at a steep price, though, costing Gurriel and Moreno, both of whom were valuable assets to Toronto’s front office. But with the team needing a shakeup after losing in the 2022 Wild Card Series, this blockbuster certainly accomplishes that.
After trading Teoscar Hernández earlier this winter, the Blue Jays have replaced two-thirds of their starting outfield from last season. And with Gurriel headed to Arizona, management will likely remain in the market for a fourth outfielder, preferably someone who excels offensively.
But with an outfield that consists of Varsho, Kiermaier and Springer, the team is in great shape heading into 2023.
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