José the Blue Jay.
The Blue Jays snagged one of the better starters on the market Friday, swinging a trade for Twins ace José Berrios in exchange for Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson, a pair of Toronto’s top-end prospects.
Berrios (3.48 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 9.3 K/9) was in the midst of a pretty good season with Minnesota, and now he gets to take his talents to The 6 to help continue grow Toronto’s playoff chances this year and next.
While, on paper, it seems like a bit of an overpay for the starter, it’s not nearly as bad as you’d think. Here’s why:
Jose Berrios trade grades
Blue Jays: B+
For the millionth (perhaps 2,000,000th) time, folks: Prospects are suspects.
The Blue Jays kept their core intact, held onto starter Nate Pearson, and gave up a couple of unproven guys for proven major league talent. That’s a good thing! That’s the kind of thing that winning teams do, and Jays fans should be happy about that.
Berrios isn’t some bum. In fact, he’s very good, and he’s having a very good season this year, and he’s under team control for another year — perhaps a year when the Jays will be more ready to compete for the division and in the playoffs. This is not a “rental” situation where Berrios is gone after the year.
Berrios, 27, is entering the prime of his career, and when he’s on, he can be flat-out nasty. He still has a ceiling he can reach, even if he’s been a bit uneven in his career to this point.
Is it an “overpay?” On paper, maybe: Austin Martin is considered a top-20 prospect in MLB, and Simeon Woods-Richardson has a fairly high ceiling despite some struggles at Double-A this year. The truth is, Toronto still has the makings of a young, explosive core anchored by Vladimir Guerrero and Bo Bichette, with three prospects still left on the MLB top-100 list (including Pearson).
Toronto has also never been a team to shy away from spending money, so don’t worry about having to penny-pinch to supplement this roster moving forward.
This is a fine deal for the Blue Jays. You can hug your parents, you can hug your significant other, but never, ever, hug your prospects.
On the other side, it’s a trade that really works for Minnesota, as well.
The Twins came screaming back down to Earth this year, making them a lot of teams’ one-stop shop for trades. Berrios was one of their prized trade pieces, and they really leveraged him well in the deal with Toronto.
The Twins get back Austin Martin, a guy with tons of offensive upside but questions about his defensive abilities at the major league level, and Simeon Woods-Richardson, who the Blue Jays got in a deal from the Mets for Marcus Stroman.
Woods-Richardson (currently playing for Team USA in the Olympics) is having a tougher time at Double-A as he adjusts to the graduation (and not having played minor league ball for a year), but it’s not too much to worry about long term. He’s still just 20 years old with a ways to go and learn, with a ceiling as high as a No. 2 starter.
Martin is the real centerpiece here, and a fun return for Minnesota: He could boast some defensive, jack-of-all-trades versatility in the majors and has no issues hitting minor league pitching to this point. If he keeps developing, he could be a good, high-average guy when he debuts.
This is a deal for the future for the Twins and if — if — these guys work out, then it’ll be one they look back on fondly.
The bottom line
In today’s hyper-charged baseball fandom climate of “Oh my God, not the prospects, anyone but the prospects!,” it’s easy to get lost in the idea that, yeah, while prospects are cool and all, they don’t help you win in the immediate.
The Jays saw an opportunity they liked, even at a cost that may be a little high, and jumped on it. That should be commended.