Blue Jays' Daulton Varsho trade looks far worse after ESPN's Top 100 Prospects list

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles - Game One
Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles - Game One / G Fiume/GettyImages

The Toronto Blue Jays just had to stand in the New York Yankees' way and block them from acquiring a young left fielder this offseason, didn't they?

Well, it'll cost you. According to Kiley McDaniel and ESPN's latest Top 100 Prospects list, it'll cost you generationally.

McDaniel's projections dropped this week, and while Yankees fans likely started smiling when they came across Anthony Volpe's name at No. 3, they probably didn't stop until they reached No. 5.

That's because, in addition to being the high man thus far on Volpe, McDaniel also believes former Blue Jays catching prospect and current Diamondback Gabriel Moreno is the fourth-best prospect in all of baseball. By contrast, Baseball America has Moreno ranked 12th overall entering the 2023 season (and as the fourth-best catching prospect in the minors), while MLB Pipeline deemed his 2022 big-league service time to be a disqualifier, as he slipped past their strict threshold for inclusion.

In other words, it's safe to assume the D-Backs would've asked for Volpe in a Varsho trade, which the Yankees never would've -- and shouldn't have -- done. The Blue Jays? They were thrilled to stop the Yankees from improving at the position, including a player McDaniel views as a "definite catcher" in the JT Realmuto class of annual All-Stars. Alrighty, then.

Regrading Blue Jays' Daulton Varsho-Gabriel Moreno trade, which now seems ... crazy (good for Yankees)

Also ... are we sure Varsho is good?

Before the Blue Jays took the plunge, it was tough to even sell yourself on dealing Oswald Peraza for Varsho considering his 27 homers came with shaky batted-ball metrics. He's still just 26 years old and a spectacular defender and, yes, the dingers are real. He really hit them. We're not living in La La Land and saying, "In the Metaverse, Varsho only hit 12 homers, so he's valueless."

That said, his expected batting average (xBA) fell in the lowly 7th percentile, and his average exit velocity ranked in the 25th. His K% fell in the 27th percentile, while his walk rate only reached the 46th. His whiffs? 45th. Chase rate? 39th. He swung and missed more than most, didn't make up for it with a keen batting eye, and didn't make consistent hard contact, all adding up to a package that Statcast considered worse than 93% of offensive players in 2022.

Pros: Varsho was literally the most pull-happy player in MLB in 2022, and the Jays just moved their right-field fences in (Yankees much?). That, plus the exceptional defense, makes him an intriguing player.

Cons: Doesn't hit the ball hard. Doesn't reach base. A strange hybrid.

Toronto went all in on defense with this acquisition and dealt from a position of depth, but they did so to fill a hole that they'd created weeks earlier when they sent Teoscar Hernández to Seattle. Moreno (or Danny Jansen) had to go, but it still seems like there was probably a better acquisition target than Varsho.

Oh, and McDaniel's Anthony Volpe comp? Bo Bichette. Have fun!