Blue Jays overpaying for Yankees trade target shows they’re trying too hard


When New York Yankees fans learned of the team’s interest in a trio of Arizona Diamondbacks outfielders, the main worry was the Houston Astros swooping in at the last second to steal the best option available.

Instead, it was the division-rival Toronto Blue Jays, who traded for outfielder Daulton Varsho last week. They sent top prospect Gabriel Moreno and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to Arizona in the deal, which has gotten mixed reviews.

Moreno, heading into 2022, was No. 7 on MLB’s list of top 100 prospects and No. 3 on Baseball America’s rankings. The 22-year-old reached the bigs in 2022 and hit .319 with a .733 OPS across 25 games. He provided 0.7 WAR.

As for Gurriel Jr., he’s been an extremely productive big-league outfielder since debuting in 2018. He has a career .285 AVG, .797 OPS and 117 OPS+ in 468 games (but defense was never his calling card). He’s signed for $5.83 million in 2023 and has one more year of control in 2024.

Varsho, on the other hand, has had one reputable MLB season (4.9 WAR in 2022 thanks to productive offense and stellar defense). He’s controllable through 2026 but, as a Super Two player, will likely have costly raises as the years progress.

The Blue Jays overpaying for Yankees trade target Daulton Varsho was silly

From a long-term outlook, this has both pros and cons for the Jays. Varsho will slot into the future outfield picture with George Springer. For at least the next two years, he’ll probably be cheaper than Gurriel. He’s younger, a better defender, and offers another left-handed bat.

But … that’s about it? There’s no guarantee he sustains his 2022 production because it’s just one single year of proof. Also, many analysts, scouts and pundits were high on Moreno, and when rumors suggested the Jays would be trading from their surplus of catchers, it was assumed they’d sell high on Alejandro Kirk or Danny Jansen. Instead, they dealt Moreno, their most prized and valuable asset, and received Varsho, who has just 283 games of MLB experience and is hitting .234 with a .738 OPS and 103 OPS+ since debuting.

His one full 2022 season is all that sets him apart from Moreno. It could perhaps be a sign of positive productivity to come, but Moreno and a better outfielder than Varsho in exchange for one 151-game sample size of Varsho feels like a massive overpay. And trust us, we’re almost always anti-prospect huggers.

To put it nicely, the jury is very much still out on whether or not the Blue Jays improved their roster for 2023 and 2024 with their offseason moves. At this very moment, it feels like all they did was take a trade target off the Yankees’ list for a price most other teams wouldn’t be willing to pay.

With Teoscar Hernandez, Gurriel and Moreno, the Jays had a positive outlook for 2023 and a roadmap to keep all of those guys in the picture for 2024 and beyond. Instead, a lot of roster gymnastics ensued, further clouding this team’s outlook.

Props to their aggression and getting the guy they wanted. Yankees fans can tell you they’re envious about that aspect of the Jays’ dealings here.

But that’s where the envy starts and ends. The Blue Jays ended up ridding the roster of two influential dugout presences and the organization’s best prospect this offseason. If that works out, it’ll be more as if they defied the odds than anything else.