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Blue Jays acquire right-hander Berrios from Twins

·4 min read

TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays added to their pitching at the trade deadline Friday, acquiring starter Jose Berrios from the Minnesota Twins and veteran reliever Joakim Soria from the Arizona Diamondbacks.

With the successful deals and the Jays finally playing back home for the first time in 670 days, GM Ross Atkins called it "a very fulfilling day, for many reasons."

"And it's not just around Jose Berrios," he said. "But I think what it means for us taking another step -- the George Springer and Marcus Semien acquisitions, Hyun Jin Ryu the year before. Continuing to build upon the progression and the growth of Bo Bichette and Vladdy (Guerrero), and Cavan (Biggio) and Jordan Romero is exciting for us."

Berrios was the Jays' big acquisition of the day. The two-time all-star has a 7-5 record with a 3.48 earned-run average and 126 strikeouts over 20 starts with the Twins this season.

"We're thinking about next year too," said Jays manager Charlie Montoyo. "A guy like Berrios is one of the best starters in baseball. And now we've got control over him next year also. So I think that was a great move."

Toronto parted with two of its top prospects — infielder Austin Martin and right-handed pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson — to land the 27-year-old right-hander from Puerto Rico. Martin ranked 16th on MLB Pipeline's top prospects list while Woods Richardson was 68th.

Martin was second on MLB's ranking of Blue Jays prospects while Woods Richardson was fourth. Pitcher Nate Pearson is rated as the prospect in the Jays organization — ninth on the MLB overall list.

Atkins said while the price was high, Berrios was one of the Jays' top targets. Citing Berrios' durability, he called him "such a good fit for this team and this organization."

Berrios' ability to pitch deep into the game will also benefit the bullpen, Atkins added.

Later in the day, Toronto acquired Soria from the Diamondbacks for two players to be named later.

"The strike-throwing ability and (his) experiences, the combination I think will allow us another option in that (bull) pen " said Atkins

The 37-year-old Soria has six saves this season, with a 4.30 ERA in 31 games. An American League all-star in 2008 and 2010, the Mexican right-hander has 229 career saves and 822 strikeouts with a 3.06 ERA.

The trades came at the end of a busy week.

"It feel like it gets busier every year. Even if potentially your phone's not ringing, you're making others ring," Atkins said.

The six-foot, 205-pound Berrios was selected by Minnesota in the first round (32nd overall) of the 2012 first-year player draft.

He was named an American League all-star in both 2018 and 2019.

Berrios, whose has a 55-43 record with a 4.08 ERA over six seasons, joins a Toronto rotation highlighted by Ryu, Robbie Ray and rookie Alek Manoah along with Steven Matz and Ross Stripling, who started Friday against Kansas City. Manoah went on the 10-day injured list with a bruised back on July 21 but is scheduled to start Saturday.

In other moves, the Jays optioned left-hander Kirby Snead to triple-A Buffalo and designated outfielder Jonathan Davis and pitcher Tyler Chatwood for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. Left-hander Brad Hand was active for Friday's game after reporting to the major league team.

The trades were confirmed in advance of baseball's Friday afternoon trade deadline, and on the same day the Jays were set to play their first game at Rogers Centre in almost two years.

The Jays had been based in the U.S. for the entire 2020 season and the first four months of the 2021 season due to COVID-19 restrictions at the Canada-U. S. border.

Martin was a key member of the 2019 Vanderbilt team that won the College World Series, and played for the American League in the All-Star Futures Games this month at Coors Field. That AL side was managed by Twins special assistant LaTroy Hawkins.

Woods Richardson, 20, was 2-4 with a 5.76 ERA over 11 starts for double-A New Hampshire this season. He is currently playing for the United States in the Olympics.

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Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2021.

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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