The Toronto Blue Jays traded for Jose Berrios at the trade deadline, giving up Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson. At the time, it looked like they’d only be getting a year and a half of Berrios, but they locked him up for the rest of his prime. The deal is worth $131 million over seven years, which locks him up through 2028, when he’ll be 34 years old.
Berrios by the Numbers
Berrios was consistently above-average through the first five seasons, even making two all-star teams in 2018 and 2019. In 2021, he had the best season of his career, especially in the 2nd half in Toronto. On the year, Berrios had a 3.52 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 3.65 SIERA, and 3.59 xFIP, all career bests. He also had a career-high strikeout rate and career-low walk rate, ranking 6th in the American League with a 20.4% K-BB%.
After the trade deadline, Berrios was even more impressive. In 12 starts for Toronto, he had a 3.58 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 3.48 SIERA, with just a 4.5% BB%. He raised his K/9 from 9.32 to 9.98 in the 2nd half, as he proved that he wasn’t a casualty of the foreign substance crackdown.
He’s a four-pitch pitcher, primarily relying on his sinker and curveball. His sinker was among the best in baseball in 2021, resulting in a -12 run value and allowing just three home runs against the pitch. Over the past two years, his four-seamer has become less and less effective, as he has a +12 run value against the fastball since the start of 2020. As a result, Berrios’ use of his sinker has increased in place of his fastball, a trend that may continue in 2022.
The length of the contract may come as a surprise, but the average annual value of just under $19 million a year is a great bargain for Toronto. Berrios may not become the superstar he was expected to be, but he’s still a 3.5-3.8 ERA pitcher who has thrown over 190 innings in each of the last three full seasons. At under $20M a year, the Jays have locked up one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball with all-star upside.
Blue Jays Pitching
The narrative surrounding the Blue Jays’ rotation shifted as the regular season went on. Berrios helped their starting rotation rank 1st in the AL in ERA and FIP, and 2nd in K-BB% and SIERA in the 2nd half. Despite the struggles of presumed ace Hyun-jin Ryu, the Jays were able to sustain a great rotation and win 91 games. Although they missed the playoffs, the Jays have a young core that will be around for years.
By locking up Berrios, the Jays now have two great pitchers for the foreseeable future, as Alek Manoah established himself as a threat in his rookie season. They still need to fill in many holes, especially since Cy Young Award finalist Robbie Ray is a free agent, but the Blue Jays are continuing to work towards a World Series championship. By keeping Jose Berrios, the Jays have locked up more of their talent for the next five years, as their contending window opens.
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