The Toronto Blue Jays bolstered their rotation on Friday, acquiring starter Jose Berrios from the Minnesota Twins. However, Berrios did not come cheap – the return was Austin Martin, the fifth overall pick in last summer’s MLB Draft, and Simeon Woods Richardson. That’s a pair of top 100 prospects and two of Toronto’s top five.
OFFICIAL: We’ve acquired RHP José Berríos from the Twins in exchange for SS/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods Richardson.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 30, 2021
Blue Jays fans shouldn’t freak out too much about this deal, as Berrios isn’t a rental – he won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season. This year, through 20 starts, Berrios has a 3.48 ERA in 121 2/3 innings, striking out 126 and walking 32 for the last place Twins.
He should slot nicely into a Toronto rotation that needs another arm. This season, Blue Jays starters have a 3.97 ERA, ranking sixth in the AL behind five of the seven teams ahead of them in the AL standings. Perhaps more damning, the Jays haven’t gotten much length out of their rotation. In a league-low 99 games (so take the overall ranking with a grain of salt), Blue Jays starters have thrown just 488 innings, the third-fewest in baseball. Only two of their starters, Robbie Ray and Hyun-Jin Ryu, have topped 100 innings, with only two others making double digit starts (Steven Matz and Ross Stripling, who each have ERAs north of 4.50).
The good news for the Blue Jays is that more help is on the way past Berrios, with Alek Manoah expected to come off the DL to start this weekend. The 23-year old has a 2.90 ERA in eight starts this year, along with 52 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings. Berrios, Manoah, and Ryu will also be members of the team’s rotation next season, as will Stripling if the team so desires.
Woods Richardson was part of the Marcus Stroman deal at the deadline two years ago with the Mets. He’s spent the year as as 20-year old in AA, quite young for the league, and the results have been a bit spotty. In 11 starts, he has a 5.76 ERA, but that does go along with 67 punchouts in 45 1/3 innings. Martin has been his teammate in AA this season, and last year’s #5 overall pick is slashing .281/.424/.383 through 55 games. The production hasn’t been there yet, but this is still his first pro season, and it’s not a surprise that Martin is taking a hot second to get off the ground.
Further attention will now turn to the Twins, who got the trade deadline started in earnest last week by trading DH Nelson Cruz to the Rays. The Athletic’s Dan Hayes reports that the team might not be done yet, with the oft-injured Byron Buxton being a potential shock mover after he rejected the team’s contract extension offer earlier this week.