The Toronto Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks completed a trade Friday that sent outfielder Daulton Varsho to Toronto for top catching prospect Gabriel Moreno and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr..
After an offseason in which the Diamondbacks have sought to deal from their outfield surplus and the Blue Jays from their surfeit of catchers, the sides came together on one of the biggest deals of the winter and filled glaring needs for both.
Varsho, 26, broke out in 2022 with 27 home runs and well-above-average defense in center field and right field. One of the Diamondbacks’ four young left-handed-hitting outfielders, along with Corbin Carroll, Jake McCarthy and Alek Thomas, Varsho batted .235/.302/.443 and stole 16 bases.
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Moreno, 22, is widely regarded as a top-10 prospect in baseball because of his elite bat-to-ball skills and throwing arm. He showcased both during a cup of coffee with the Blue Jays this year, when he hit .319/.356/.377 in 73 plate appearances, struck out just eight times and threw out seven of 17 runners.
The Blue Jays were open to trading Moreno because they already have All-Star Alejandro Kirk and veteran Danny Jansen at catcher.
Toronto’s desire for a left-handed bat to complement a lineup that includes the right-handed-hitting Kirk, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, George Springer and Matt Chapman was clear.
With Springer, Varsho and Kevin Kiermaier, whom they signed as a free agent this winter, the Blue Jays will have one of the best defensive outfields in baseball.
The Diamondbacks had the opposite problem of the Blue Jays, in that they had a left-handed heavy lineup. Moreno and Gurriel are both right-handed hitters, which balances out the batting order as the Diamondbacks, who concluded with a 74-88 record last season, try to compete in the loaded NL West with the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.
Gurriel, 29, has spent five seasons with the Blue Jays and hit .291/.343/.400 this season. He is owed $5.8 million next year and will reach free agency after the 2024 season.
Gurriel is the brother of the Houston Astros’ Yuli Gurriel, while Varsho is the son of former MLB outfielder Gary Varsho.
To make room on the 40-man roster for both players, Arizona designated catcher Ali Sanchez for assignment.
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