More than a day removed from one of the busiest afternoons in Toronto Blue Jays history, the dust has finally settled. The home opener in July has been played (and won) and each of Toronto's three deadline additions has arrived north of the border.
The Blue Jays coaches and decision-makers have met with the media, and several key takeaways have arisen from Toronto's flurry of 2021 trade deadline maneuvers.
1. Blue Jays Take "The Next Step"
Toronto's 2021 deadline was a long time coming. It was a process of building that started with a teardown, dreamt around Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, drew hope from Hyun Jin Ryu, took a lurch forward with the additions of George Springer and Marcus Semien, and took one more step this week.
"The development and maturation of our young core, the opportunities we've had over the last few offseasons to add to it, and now having our farm system and team in a place that we'd like to push to the next level," Ross Atkins said Friday. "It was the combination of those things making some sense, and the opportunity to acquire the talent that we were very excited about."
The acquisitions of relievers Joakim Soria and Brad Hand filled a clear short-term need, but Toronto's trade of two top prospects (Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson) for José Berríos shifted the franchise's window.
With a year-and-a-half of team control, Berríos will be part of Toronto playoff pushes for at least the next two seasons. He'll sit atop a rotation alongside (at least) Hyun Jin Ryu, and provide the oft-discussed run prevention for one of the league's top young offenses. Berríos is one of the top young starters in baseball, and now he's a Blue Jay.
"This was a very fulfilling day," Atkins said.
2. Bullpen Makeover Completed
The clearest need was, naturally, Toronto's most addressed area at the 2021 trade deadline. With 17 losses while leading or tied after six innings this year, Atkins and Toronto's decision-makers spent the last month reshaping the Blue Jay bullpen.
With six trades and rotating promotions, more than half of Toronto's current bullpen weren't in the organization on Opening Day 2021. Trevor Richards and Adam Cimber have added effective middle-innings depth, and the Blue Jays injected leverage help in the last few hours of 2021 trading.
Southpaw Hand and righty Soria have 355 career saves and 1201 big league appearances between them. Hand is a three-time all-star, who led the league in saves last season (16 Sv) and owns a solid 3.64 career ERA. While the rest of the AL East loaded up on big lefty bats (Anthony Rizzo, Joey Gallo, Kyle Schwarber), Hand will have leverage lanes to work with in Toronto's pivotal August and September matchups.
"Late innings situations," Hand said about his role with Toronto," When we have a chance to win a ballgame, that's where [Charlie Montoyo] sees me fitting in there."
Acquired for two PTBNL, Soria is a 14-year veteran who adds another experienced late-inning arm to a bullpen that has been the youngest in the big leagues at times this season. Soria may not be the Cy Young caliber closer he once was, but he can still pitch the big inning at 37 years old. In the last three seasons, Soria has 11 playoff appearances and he'll hope to add on that with Toronto this fall.
3. Nate Pearson "In Games Shortly"
While Berríos, Hand, and Soria are Toronto's true deadline additions, they have a back-of-the-pen power reliever that may join the team soon.
RHP Pearson was "full steam ahead" in a recent bullpen session, Atkins said in his post-deadline press conference. Toronto's GM once again lauded the righty's electric stuff and said he'll be getting into game action shortly.
"Very excited about the coming days for him," Atkins said.
The former top Toronto prospect's name was rumored to be in trade talks in the final hours of the deadline, but he ultimately remained with the organization and could help compliment a shuffled bullpen further in the final weeks of 2021.
4. Berríos To Debut Sunday
If he could arrive by Saturday night, Toronto's newest starter would get the ball Sunday, manager Charlie Montoyo told the media.
Just after the Blue Jays secured their second straight victory over the Royals, photos began to emerge of Berríos flanked by Soria working through the guts of Rogers Centre. With masks and backpacks on, Toronto's newest pitchers made their way onto the Canadian turf and recorded a welcome video that confirmed their arrival.
Berríos will match up against Royals starter Brad Keller in the home series finale. The righty has faced the Royals twice this season, pitching 12 total innings, allowing eight runs against, and striking out 13 Kansas City hitters.
5. What They Lost
No. 2 (MLB.com) Prospect: SS/CF Austin Martin
Toronto's representative at the 2021 MLB Future's Game, Martin has missed time with hand and concussion issues in 2021. There are concerns about his lack of power and long-term defensive fit, but Martin's bat-to-ball skills and elite eye will keep him atop prospect rankings until he breaks into the majors.
No. 4 Prospect: SP Simeon Woods Richardson
Woods Richardson recently slipped outside Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list, with a rough statistical 2021. Coming into the season as one of Toronto's top prospects and one of the best young arms in baseball, SWR posted a 5.76 ERA and 5.2 BB/9 this season in 11 starts. Currently pitching for the United States at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Woods Richardson will return to North America as a member of the Twins organization alongside another Team USA Olympic athlete, former Rays prospect Joe Ryan (traded for Nelson Cruz).
No. 17 Prospect: C Riley Adams
Adams found himself at the bottom of a deep Toronto catching depth chart. One of the organization's top prospects heading into 2021, the 25-year-old got a 12-game taste of the bigs when the Blue Jays suffered a slew of backstop injuries. In 30 plate appearances, Adams hit .107 with a .345 OPS in the MLB.
Failing to stick with Toronto, Adams is still succeeding at the triple-A level but found himself behind Danny Jansen, Reese McGuire, and Alejandro Kirk on the Blue Jays' current catching depth chart, and behind Gabriel Moreno for catcher of the future.