Rogers Center. Toronto, (Canad)
Rogers Center. Toronto, (Canad). Depositphotos

Blue Jay’s new arrival Daulton Varsho

The Toronto Blue Jays were looking to make a big splash this offseason and did just that by landing 26-year-old catcher/outfielder Daulton Varsho from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for catcher Gabriel Moreno and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 

Varsho is coming off the best season of his young career thus far, playing in 151 games last season in his age 25 seasons, recording a .235/.302/.443 slash with 27 home runs and 74 RBI. He also recorded a 4.9 WAR, tied for 41st overall in the MLB. He also recorded a defensive WAR of 2.0, which was tied for 14th best overall. 

A versatile piece that the Blue Jays can add to their talented core to build around, the Wisconsin native played 114 games in the outfield last season, a majority of that time in left field but also played 31 games at catcher. Over his three seasons and 264 career games, 182 games have come in the outfield, 82 at catcher, and 22 as a designated hitter. 

While Varsho is the centerpiece of the trade, the Diamondbacks received a strong return for the 26-year-old. The 22-year-old Gabriel Moreno is a former top-10 prospect for the Blue Jays who made his Major League debut with Toronto this past season. In 25 games this season, Moreno slashed .319/.356/.377 with one home run and seven RBI over 69 at-bats. His success at the plate in his limited time in the Majors this season came as no surprise as the right-handed hitting catcher was a career .310 hitter in the minor leagues. Prior to being promoted to Toronto in June, Moreno hit .315/.386/.420 for the Buffalo Bison of the International League.

Also going to the desert is Lourdes Gurriel Jr, who’ll be entering his sixth season in the MLB this upcoming season. The career .285/.329/.468 hitter is coming off a somewhat down year for the Blue Jays. Despite producing a quality .291 batting average and .343 on-base percentage, Gurriel Jr.’s power appeared to be zapped with just five long balls in 121, a far cry from his 162-game average of 24 home runs. He also had 52 RBI In 2022, the second most of his career. The Diamondbacks will hope that Gurriel Jr’s power will return in 2023 after posting strong numbers in 2021, hitting .276/.319/.466 with 21 home runs and 84 RBI over 141 games. Over five seasons and 468 career games, Gurriel Jr. has compiled a career-hitting slash of .285/.329/.468 with 68 home runs and 254 RBI. He also has 101 career doubles. 

Blue Jays looking to return to the postseason again in 2023

After a disappointing ending to their season in the AL Wild Card, losing two games to none to the Seattle Mariners, the Blue Jays will look to return to the Major League postseason once again in 2023 which is a good chance to bet on the Blue Jays and more at Ontario Sportsbooks.   The franchise has only been able to achieve back-to-back postseason trips three times all-time in franchise history, making it three straight years from 1991 to 1993 which saw them win back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993 before making the ALCS back-to-back years in 2015 and 2016. 

Bet MGM Ontario’s latest odds for the Blue Jays to win American League East sit at 3.20, only behind the New York Yankees (2.00). Additionally, their odds to win the American League sit at 9.00, only behind the Houston Astros (4.00), New York Yankees (4.00) and tied with the Seattle Mariners. To win the World Series, their odds currently sit at 17.00. 

Vlad Jr and Alex Manoah set to lead individual award candidates

While odds for 2023 awards have yet to be released, it’s widely expected to be star first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr and star starting pitcher Alex Manoah as the Blue Jay’s top chances for the MVP and Cy Young awards. Guerrero Jr, entering his age 24 season finished with the 16th most MVP votes in 2022 after being the runner-up in 2021. In 2022, Guerrero Jr, hit .274/.339/.480 with 32 home run and 97 RBI over 638 at-bats and 160 games. While still a strong season, it was a drop off from his 2021 season that saw him record 48 home runs and 111 RBI while hitting .311/.401/.601, on top of 16 fewer home runs and failing to drive in 100 or more runs, the two-time all-star first baseman also walked significantly less, with just 58 free passes compared to his 86 in 2021. However, he didn’t strike out at an alarmingly higher clip, with just six additional Ks over an additional 34 at-bats. 

Manoah, on the other hand, was one of the MLB’s top pitchers in 2022, going 16-7 with a 2.24 ERA over 31 starts and 196.2 innings, earning his first all-star game appearance and finishing third in Cy Young voting while also finishing 17th in MVP voting. It was a strong second season for Manoah in the Majors after recording a 9-2 record and 3.22 ERA over his first 20 career starts in 2021. After putting together an already Cy Young caliber season from April through August, Manoah was nearly unhittable down the stretch for the Blue Jays, going 4-0 in September and October with an 0.88 ERA and an 0.854 WHIP in six starts and 41 innings.

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