Tide is turning on the Blue Jays' Daulton Varsho trade and it's gonna get obnoxious

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

One year ago, the Yankees had balked at paying a steep price (Anthony Volpe) for lefty outfielder/defensive wizard with pop Daulton Varsho, instead watching Toronto pay up with their (blocked) top prospect, Gabriel Moreno.

It was a far easier decision for Toronto, given that they featured All-Star catcher Alejandro Kirk behind the plate, backed up by Danny Jansen, who'd also had an All-Star 2022 season in the eyes of some (sorry, Jose Trevino got it). Sure, Moreno had significant untapped potential, but they were flush at that position for 2023 and beyond ... until they weren't.

Kirk backslid. Jansen was still capable, but fell from a 142 OPS+ peak down to 115 (still exceptional for a catcher, roughly what Gleyber Torres did in 2023). Moreno? He was the shining star backstop of the surprising NL champion D-Backs (despite an offensive season that was actually less impactful than Jansen's). They'd also surrendered Lourdes Gurriel Jr., an offensive star in the outfield if not a defensive standout.

Worst of all, though, Varsho had not built on a single one of his positive 2022 trends in the manner Toronto was banking on. It was bad enough that they'd sacrificed not one, but two key pieces to obtain him. But after an offseason where every neighbor to the north crowed about his bunting ability (slept on!), his defense making up for offense, and his power translating better with the Rogers Centre's brand new right field dimensions, what actually occurred was an 85 OPS+/.674 OPS campaign where even the outfielder's most ardent supporters had to admit he was quicksand in a big offensive spot.

Entering 2024, Varsho had a massive narrative hole to dig out of if he wanted to reclaim his budding top-100 player status and make the Yankees look foolish for not surrendering the crown jewel of their farm in exchange for him (yes, even after Volpe's somehow-still-subpar 20/20 season). Thus far ... he has. And Toronto fans who watched his value get dragged after his acquisition keyed someone else's improbable playoff run are not going to let it go.

Blue Jays fans are going to start chirping Yankees over Daulton Varsho again

The numbers aren't just pretty. They're a stark counter to the diminished profile that made Varsho a rivals' punching bag last year. It's far easier to tune out someone's exquisite range factor when their swing decisions wouldn't make a paper bag wince. It's much tougher when they've already racked up 1.6 bWAR in 23 games, pummeling six homers for a 156 OPS+.

Ultimately, there's a very solid chance the Varsho trade ends up a wash or even a win, despite the worst-timed possible off year. And, until the modern incarnation of the Yankees wins anything of note, it's probably not worth admonishing the current Blue Jays over landing in the same bucket -- even if we're going to need to see much more than two-thirds of a month before we start asking AI to generate images of "Anthony Volpe living in the desert and loving life."