The Toronto Blue Jays and the Arizona Diamondbacks have reportedly pulled off the most significant trade of the offseason (so far), as Jeff Passan at ESPN is reporting that the Jays are sending top prospect catcher Gabriel Moreno and left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for centre fielder Daulton Varsho.
In Varsho, the Blue Jays are getting a lefty-batter who will slot in nicely amongst the current lineup. Last season, Varsho slashed .235/.302/.443 with 27 home runs, 74 RBI, and a .745 OPS while amassing a 4.9 bWAR.
Defensively, the Wisconsin product has been outstanding in the outfield, compiling a 26 DRS split between centre and right field over the past three seasons (98 and 83 games respectively). The former second-round pick can also play behind the plate, sporting a .988 fielding percentage while throwing out 30% of base stealers. Varsho sat in the 99th percentile in Outs Above Average and in the 97th percentile in outfielder jump last season and has a 91% career success rate.
Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to Arizona
The Diamondbacks were able to pry away Moreno, the Blue Jays’ top prospect and the No. 6 prospect in baseball, thanks to the backstop presence of both Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen at the big league level for Toronto.
Making his MLB debut last season, the Venezuelan-born Moreno owned a .319 average and a .733 OPS through 69 at-bats. Behind the plate, Moreno boasts a strong 1.92-second pop-up time to second base and a rocket of an arm, throwing out 41% of base stealers.
Heading with Moreno to Arizona is left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. The Cuban-born outfielder joined the Blue Jays back in the 2016/2017 offseason and through five seasons, he owns a .285/.329/.468 slash line with 68 home runs and a .797 OPS and an 8.0 bWAR.
While struggling to find his groove as an infielder earlier in his career, Gurriel Jr. switched to the left field back in 2019 and found his rhythm, using his strong arm to rack up 31 assists and multiple Gold Glove nominations. The righty-batter is eligible for free agency following the 2023 season.
Considering the Blue Jays traded away Teoscar Hernández earlier this offseason, the club was needing an additional outfielder even after the Kevin Kiermaier signing and found their player in Varsho, who isn’t eligible for free agency for another four years as he was designated a Super Two player this offseason.
Losing Moreno will be a tough pill to swallow for Jays fans as he does project to be an everyday catcher but the depth of Danny Jansen and Alejandro Kirk made Moreno available for trade talks and the Jays are now boasting one of the top defensive-minded outfields in the game heading into 2023. Factor in that Varsho also hits from the left-side and will help break up the slew of righty-batters in the Jays lineup, and this deal looks like a win for both sides.