Right-hander José Berríos and the Toronto Blue Jays are in agreement on a seven-year, $131 million contract extension, sources confirm to ESPN. The deal includes an opt-out clause after the fifth season and limited no-trade protection as well. @deplaymaker was on top of it.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 16, 2021
Berrios was scheduled to become a free agent after the 2022 season.
For Toronto, signing a long-term commitment with Berrios made all the sense in the world for a variety of reasons.
First, it’s a clear indication that they mean business and want to fight for the division for the foreseeable future.
He was very good in the 12 starts he made in a Blue Jays uniform.
Covering 70.1 innings, he had a 3.58 ERA and a 3.28 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching).
He was particularly effective if we consider his ability to strike guys out (9.98 per nine innings) and limit walks (1.66 per nine).
He performed similarly with the Minnesota Twins, with which he had a 3.48 ERA in 121.2 frames.
They Needed To Protect Their Investment
Additionally, locking him up long-term was a must for Toronto because they spent a lot of resources to bring him in at the deadline.
The Blue Jays surrendered two top-100 prospects in July, infielder/outfielder Austin Martin and pitcher Simeon Woods-Richardson, to get the talented Berrios.
Sure, it was a lot to give up, but it was a necessary move because Toronto badly needed a starting pitcher capable of consistently pitching six or seven frames and keeping the team in the game.
As part of the deal, Berrios can opt out after year five of his $131M deal.
Additionally, there are escalators that can take it up by $10 million, and it has an eight-team no-trade list.
Now, Toronto can rest easy knowing that they have a good, young pitcher with a solid track record of production for the next seven seasons.
He may not be particularly effective for the last year or two, but it was the price to pay for top-end production now and in the near future.
The Blue Jays rotation, seen as a liability at different points in the last couple of seasons, is now a strength.
Steven Matz, currently a free agent, is a strong bet to re-sign, but could also leave for another team.
Pitching Is The Name Of The Game
In any case, Toronto knows that they need to bring more pitchers into the fold eventually, but the offseason is still young and they needed to make sure they kept Berrios for as long as they could.
It was a great move for the franchise, an up-and-coming force with a formidable offense that needed this kind of move to secure a top pitcher.
Berrios is now a key cog on that staff.
Having a pitcher like Berrios in a tough division like the American League East is a plus.
Between the Twins and Blue Jays, he pitched 192 innings of a 3.52 ERA and struck out 204 hitters.
A durable workhorse who rarely gets injured, we can expect a similar performance for at least the first half of his contract.
His command and excellent curveball are, additionally, good tools that forecast a smooth aging process, too.
José Berríos, Vicious Curveballs. 😯 pic.twitter.com/8Y5xSCOsDC
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 30, 2021
Overall, it was a good investment by a team that is giving all the signs that they want to contend for the long haul.