Gabriel Moreno has been a star for the Arizona Diamondbacks in the playoffs
By Evan Stack2 months ago
What were the hottest topics of the 2023 Blue Jays? Offence? Definitely. Base running miscues? Of course. Ross Atkins and John Schneider? Now more than ever!
Amongst that list would also be the results of the Daulton Varsho trade, a deal that sent Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Gabriel Moreno to the Arizona Diamondbacks on December 23rd, 2022. While Gurriel Jr. was a part of Toronto’s main core and an offence with tremendous upside, Moreno was the piece that the deal was centred around for the Diamondbacks. He was going to be their catcher of the future, as question marks surrounded Carson Kelly (released by the team on Aug. 15th) and Jose Herrera (now the backup to Moreno).
The Diamondbacks exceeded expectations this season with an 84-78 record and secured the third Wild Card spot in the National League. Most of the attention with Arizona fluttered around rookie Corbin Carroll and ace Zach Gallen, and deservedly so. Carroll has a more-than-legitimate shot at the NL Rookie of the Year award and Gallen will receive some Cy Young votes.
Some forget that Moreno, on the other hand, was among the league’s top prospects at the time of his trading. With Carroll’s standout season, Moreno probably got lost in the shuffle a little bit. Moreno put together a solid season at the plate, slashing .284/.339/.408 with 7 home runs, 50 RBIs, and a 4.3 WAR (4th-best on the team behind Carroll, Gallen, and Ketel Marte).
Moreno won’t garner any MVP attention himself, but he’s currently putting his fingerprints all over Arizona’s run in the postseason. He smoked a solo home run off of Corbin Burnes in Game 1 of the Wild Card series in Milwaukee, a series Arizona would ultimately sweep. Moreno suffered a head injury after taking a backswing to the head during Game 2 of that series, but fortunately, he was cleared to return prior to their NLDS round against the Dodgers.
The Diamondbacks are grateful that he was able to play because he crushed a three-run bomb off of Clayton Kershaw in the first inning of last night’s 11-2 drubbing of the Dodgers in the series opener. That homer was a part of a 2-for-5 night for Moreno, bringing his playoff batting average to .300.
As Blue Jays fans, this gives us an opportunity to experience a broad range of emotions. I mean, this kid is only 23 years old and he already has two postseason home runs (the same amount that Toronto has in the last two postseasons combined). Furthermore, those homers are off of some premier pitchers in Burnes and Kershaw.
With his performance so far in October, it’s perfectly fine to be thinking both, “Damn, that dude could still be wearing a Blue Jays jersey.” and, “Let’s go! I’m happy for that guy!”
This is low-hanging fruit for anti-Atkins folks to further slander the Varsho deal. But the truth of the matter is that no one could have easily predicted that Moreno would be hitting tanks off of Clayton Kershaw in October or that Alejandro Kirk would have experienced a regression this season coming off an All-Star and Silver Slugger season. If one could see that coming, of course, Ross Atkins would’ve retained Moreno. Also, let’s not let recency bias affect our decision-making here. Who says all of Kirk/Danny Jansen and Moreno have nice careers after this season?
Blue Jays fans, especially those who keep a close eye on the minor leagues, had an opportunity to watch Moreno grow into one of the best prospects in all of baseball. The “woulda, coulda, shoulda’s” of this deal happen with many other trades, do you think Pittsburgh would’ve liked to undo the Tyler Glasnow and Austin Meadows for Chris Archer deal?
The deal is done and it is what it is. Set aside the petty gripes and enjoy a homegrown Blue Jays prospect thrive in the postseason, even if it’s for another team. Good for Gabby.
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