PHOENIX – The Arizona Diamondbacks acquired one of the top prospects in baseball, adding catcher Gabriel Moreno and veteran outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in a swap that sent slugger Daulton Varsho to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The 22-year-old Moreno made the majors last season with the Blue Jays, hitting .319 with a homer in 69 at-bats. The 29-year-old Gurriel is a five-year veteran who hit .291 with five homers and 32 doubles this year.
The Blue Jays get the versatile Varsho, who was arguably the best player on the Diamondbacks last season. The 26-year-old Varsho hit a career-high 27 homers in 2022. He is an excellent defender in the outfield who also has the ability to play catcher.
Arizona general manager Mike Hazen said it was difficult to give up Varsho, who had become a leader in the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse despite his relative youth.
“To get good players, we had to give up a good player,” Hazen said. “But we feel like we acquired two good players. Two good players who fit a very specific need for us.”
Moreno and Gurriel are both right-handed hitters, which allows the D-backs to balance their left-handed heavy lineup.
Varsho is a left-handed hitter and was part of Arizona’s group of young, talented outfielders that includes Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy, Stone Garrett and Pavin Smith. The D-backs finished with a 74-88 record last season and are trying to compete in the loaded NL West, which includes the big-spending Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.
Trading Varsho was a steep cost, but Hazen said it was the best way to continue to improve the roster and try to close the gap.
“I don’t think we’re sitting in a place where one player, or one free agent signing is going to take us where we need to go to compete,” Hazen said. “You see what’s happening in the National League right now. We still have a lot of work to do.”
The Blue Jays had the opposite problem of the Diamondbacks: a heavily right-handed lineup. The addition of Varsho should give them more left-handed balance in the middle of the order.
The trade for Varsho is the latest offseason move for the busy Blue Jays, who also have added outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, starting pitcher Chris Bassitt and reliever Erik Swanson. Toronto loses Moreno but has some depth at catcher with All-Star Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen.
Gurriel is the brother of Astros slugger Yuli Gurriel. Varsho is the son of former major league outfielder Gary Varsho.
To make room on the 40-man roster for both players, the D-backs designated catcher Ali Sanchez for assignment.