Blue Jays’ newest addition Varsho excited for opportunity

TORONTO (AP) — Despite the initial shock, Daulton Varsho views his trade to the Toronto Blue Jays as potentially being one of the best things that could happen to him.

The former Arizona Diamondbacks slugger was sent to Toronto for veteran outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and catching prospect Gabriel Moreno on Friday.

“You think you’re going to stay at one spot your whole career and usually that never happens,” Varsho told reporters Saturday. “I’m glad I have family to be able to help me through.

“My dad (Gary Varsho) got traded so he knows exactly the feeling. He was with the Cubs for a long time and (then) going to Pittsburgh. But it was one of the greatest things for him, so I’m thinking the same thing. I’m coming to this winning team here in Toronto and it’s gonna be a lot of fun.”

Varsho provides the Blue Jays a much-needed left-handed power bat, in addition to a wealth of versatility. The 26-year-old is under team control for four years.

He hit a career-high 27 homers last season and was a Gold Glove finalist in right field and as a utility player. He also spent some time in center field and made 18 starts as a catcher.

Varsho drove in 74 runs, stole 16 bases and hit .235 over 151 games in 2022.

“I think well-rounded is what comes to mind,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Saturday. “The impact that he’s going to have on our team is going to be on every side of the ball — the base-running impact, the speed, the versatility, elite defense and the fact that he can also catch for us is about as good of a fit as possibly we could have found.

“I think it is the ideal fit for the roster and one that we are very excited about.”

Gurriel, 29, is a five-year veteran set to become a free agent after next season. He hit .291 in an injury-plagued season with five homers and 32 doubles.

The 22-year-old Moreno made his big league debut last year with the Blue Jays, hitting .319 with a homer in 69 at-bats. Toronto was deep at the catcher position with All-Star Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen.

“All trades are difficult,” Atkins said. “Having to acquire a player of this caliber … one of the better players in the game last year, you’re going to have to be uncomfortable. Including Lourdes Gurriel in the deal was difficult for us, but necessary from their end.

“They were looking to consolidate talent at the major league level as well. The prospect-driven deals (weren’t) as attractive to them.”

Varsho was among a group of young, talented outfielders on the Diamondbacks, who were 74-88 last season. Atkins said Varsho predominantly will play left field, strengthening a new-look outfield that consists of George Springer and Kevin Kiermaier, who finalized a deal with the Blue Jays on Dec. 15.

“It’s gonna be a lot of fun playing with Kevin and George out there (and) having a better idea of how they play,” Varsho said.

The prospects of playing alongside Kiermaier especially excites Varsho.

“Definitely, he’s a Gold Glover,” he said. “It’s always fun to be out there with a guy who plays the same way I do, where it’s going hard until (you) catch the ball.

“Being able to learn from him because I think he goes really well back. That’s one thing I think I struggle at a little bit. But to be able to learn something, maybe something minimal for him throughout his whole career of what helped him and just bounce some ideas off him.”

Toronto (92-70) finished seven games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East last season. The Blue Jays have been busy retooling since getting swept by the Seattle Mariners in the wild-card round.

Toronto shipped slugger Teoscar Hernandez to the Mariners last month for reliever Erik Swanson. The Blue Jays also signed starting pitcher Chris Bassitt.

“I think our heavy lifting is done but certainly not ruling anything out and would expect incremental improvements,” Atkins said. “But very excited about this impact and feel good about the previous acquisitions that we’ve made as well.”

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