MLB

José Berríos trade: Blue Jays land Twins righty at MLB trade deadline, per report

The Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins have agreed to a trade that will send right-handed starter José Berríos to Toronto, the teams announced Friday. The Twins will receive outfielder/infielder Austin Martin and right-hander Simeon Woods-Richardson in return.

Berríos, 27, won’t qualify for free agency until after the 2022 season. In 20 starts this season, he’s compiled a 3.48 ERA (120 ERA+) and a 3.94 strikeout-to-walk ratio. A two-time All-Star, he has a four-pitch arsenal: his signature curveball, a pair of low-to-mid-90s fastballs, and a changeup that he primarily uses against left-handed hitters.

Berríos will slot into a Toronto rotation that’s led by Robbie Ray and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Rookie Alek Manoah is expected to return from the injured list this weekend, giving the Blue Jays four above-average starters. (Presumably Ross Stripling will return to the bullpen, as he has more experience in a relief role than Steven Matz does.)

The Blue Jays entered Friday with a 51-48 record on the season, placing them 9 1/2 games back in the American League East. Toronto was also 4 1/2 games behind in the hunt for the second wild card spot. Berríos is the third major addition the Blue Jays have made to their roster in the past six months, joining George Springer and Marcus Semien and his addition ups the Jays’ playoff chances from 25.4 percent to 30.9 percent, per Sportsline.

Martin, 22, was the No. 5 pick in the 2020 draft. He’s spent the season at Double-A, hitting .281/.424/.383 with two home runs and nine stolen bases (on 12 tries). The Blue Jays have had him cross-training at multiple positions, as he did during his time at Vanderbilt. So far, that’s entailed 26 starts in center field and 26 starts at shortstop. Boosters of Martin believe he can be an all-around contributor thanks to his feel for hitting and for the strike zone; others are concerned about his lack of power production to date and his ultimate defensive home.

Woods-Richardson, 20, was previously acquired by the Blue Jays from the Mets in the Marcus Stroman trade. In 11 starts at Double-A this season, he’s accumulated a 5.76 ERA and a 2.58 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Woods-Richardson has struggled with his command, but he has a starter’s arsenal and he remains young enough to think there’s more room for progress as he attempts to develop into a middle-of-the-rotation fixture.

Berríos’ availability comes as a surprise. Entering the 2021 MLB season, the Twins were expected to compete for, if not once again win the American League Central. Instead, Minnesota has suffered a season that can be described only as a soft apocalypse. The Twins entered Friday with a 43-60 record on the year, good for last place in the division and some 17 games back of the leading Chicago White Sox.

Berríos is the second notable Twins player to be traded ahead of Friday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, joining designated hitter Nelson Cruz. The Twins now have to make tough decisions on a pair of outfielders, in Max Kepler and Byron Buxton. Both are controllable through at least next season (Kepler’s contract includes a club option for 2024), but as the Berríos trade proves, Minnesota is willing to part with players earlier than they need to in order to improve their long-term outlook.



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