First reported by Jeff Passan, trade talks came quickly Friday afternoon with the news of Varsho close to being traded. The actual trade came later, as Passan tweeted Moreno was part of the package being sent to Arizona.
BREAKING: The Toronto Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks are in agreement on a trade that will send outfielder Daulton Varsho to the Blue Jays for a package that includes top catching prospect Gabriel Moreno, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 23, 2022
That package ended up only being one additional player, in the form of Lourdes Gurriel Jr, another outfielder but a right-handed one to balance out the remaining youngsters in Carroll, Thomas, and McCarthy.
Source confirms the deal is a 2-for-1, with the additional player headed to Arizona.— Kiley McDaniel (@kileymcd) December 23, 2022
Moreno is a consensus top 10 prospect in all of baseball being; that kind of player being dealt is incredibly rare. https://t.co/3fBVPzTok5
Gabriel Moreno is the headliner here, as he was a top-10 prospect at a position of need for the D-backs. With fringe catching free agents seeing upwards of $9MM per year contracts, grabbing a sure-fire backstop to join the stable of young players should be seen as a coup for the front office.
Moreno saw his first cup of coffee last year, appearing in 25 games (61 days) for the big league club in June-September. He was excellent, posting a .319/.356/.377 slash line with excellent defense, throwing out 7/17 base runners and providing positive framing value. He should push Carson Kelly for at-bats in 2023.
The other piece in the return is Lourdes Gurriel Jr, who started 121 games for Toronto in 2022. A normal power threat, a wrist injury sapped all of that power for Gurriel as he only hit 5 homers last year despite averaging 15 over the previous 4 years and needed off-season wrist surgery to repair the hamate bone. Gurriel is another RH outfield option for Torey Lovullo as he’s in the final season of a 7-year deal earning just $5.8 million before reaching arbitration in 2024.
Of course gaining all that means losing something just as valuable, as Daulton Varsho is the only piece heading to Toronto. Originally drafted by the team in 2017 as a competitive balance pick, Varsho has done nothing but hit since joining the team. Playing mostly catcher in the minors, Varsho showed a career .302/.372/.527 in the minors before getting the call in 2020 to join the team. He struggled and after a short stint in Reno the next year, he was a mainstay in the outfield. Across the last two years, he’s hit 38 homers with a .748 OPS and gold glove defense in center field.
But Hazen made it clear once the offseason hit that he’d look to trade one of the young lefty outfielders, and with today’s deal that came to fruition. We wish him nothing but the best.
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