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Jose Berrios Traded to Blue Jays from Twins for Prospects Ahead of 2021 Deadline

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJuly 30, 2021

Minnesota Twins pitcher Jose Berrios delivers against the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 31, 2021, in Baltimore.(AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton/Associated Press

Amid a disappointing 2021 season, the Minnesota Twins have gone into sell mode by trading starting pitcher Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday.

Toronto confirmed the move, noting the Twins will receive shortstop Austin Martin and pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson in exchange for Berrios.

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported the agreement, with Jeff Passan of ESPN relaying the return, describing it as a "massive haul."

Expectations were high for the Twins coming into this season. They had made the postseason in three of the past four seasons, including back-to-back American League Central titles in 2019 and 2020. 

A combination of injuries and poor performances has seen Minnesota fall to the bottom of the AL Central standings with a 43-60 record.

Berrios has been one of the few bright spots. The 27-year-old is on pace to have the lowest ERA of his career (3.48) along with 126 strikeouts and 95 hits allowed through 121.2 innings over 20 starts. 

The Twins found themselves in a difficult spot with Berrios. He has one more year of team control before being eligible for free agency in the winter of 2022.

Given the state of Minnesota's roster, with most of its key position players under contract beyond this season, it would be easy for general manager Thad Levine to expect his team to return to contention in 2022.

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While that still might be the case, moving Berrios leaves the Twins with more questions in their starting rotation. Michael Pineda and J.A. Happ can become free agents this offseason. 

They will at least restock the farm system with two top-100 prospects in Martin (No. 16) and Woods Richardson (No. 68), according to MLB.com.

Martin was the fifth overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft and has performed well in Double-A with a .281 batting average and .424 on-base percentage in 55 games. He has also played both shortstop and center field this season, giving the Twins options going forward.

Woods Richardson has a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts in Double-A, but he also has 67 strikeouts in 45.1 innings and 11.6 career strikeouts per nine innings in the minors.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are going for it in 2021 with the luxury of knowing Berrios will be in their rotation next year. The right-hander has dominant stuff and can be a high-end starter when he's at the top of his game. 

Toronto entered Friday fourth in the AL East at 51-48 but remains 4.5 games out of the wild-card race.

The lineup is one of the best in the majors behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but the pitching needed help. The Blue Jays add another reliable pitcher behind Robbie Ray and Hyun Jin Ryu who will help them compete during the stretch run.

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