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Berrios Signs 7 Year Deal with Blue Jays

This article first appeared in MLB.com
TORONTO — The Blue Jays have agreed to terms on to a seven-year, $131 million extension with right-hander José Berríos, sources tell MLB.com, locking up one of the game’s most reliable young starters with an aggressive first move in their offseason. The club has not confirmed the deal.

Berríos, 27, was scheduled to become a free agent following the 2022 season, but he will now be a cornerstone of the Blue Jays’ rotation through ’28. This covers the window during which the Blue Jays, now stacked with stars and young talent, hope to contend after their 91-71 record left them just short of the postseason in ’21.

Toronto acquired Berríos at the Trade Deadline from the Twins, with whom he had spent his entire professional career and grown into one of the organization’s most beloved figures. The package included a pair of headline names in then-No. 2 prospect Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson (then No. 4), but Berríos represented everything the Blue Jays were looking for in starting pitchers. Even at his age, he already had six seasons of MLB experience — a track record worth betting on.

Berríos will now lead a rotation that features Hyun Jin Ryu and Alek Manoah. American League Cy Young Award finalist Robbie Ray and fellow left-hander Steven Matz are free agents, though the Blue Jays have shown interest in bringing back both pitchers, as at least one more rotation move is expected this offseason. Former top prospect Nate Pearson could figure into that rotation picture when he returns healthy in 2022, but having Berríos as the No. 1 or No. 2 starter is a fine place to begin.

In 12 starts with the Blue Jays, Berríos posted a 3.58 ERA with 78 strikeouts over 70 1/3 innings, pitching at least six innings in each of his final seven starts. Those numbers, unsurprisingly, fall in line with Berríos’ career stats as one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball. The Bayamon, P.R., native owns a career 4.04 ERA that drops to 3.74 when you cut out a tough rookie year in ’16, and he has made 32 starts in each of the past three full MLB seasons (’18, ’19, ’21).

Berríos’ peripheral numbers point in the same direction, too. His walk and strikeout rates have been steady throughout his career, while his fastball velocity has remained stable around the 94-mph mark. From the spin rates and movement on his pitches to the type of contact opponents are making, all of Berríos’ data suggests that he’ll continue to be exactly who he has been.

The timing of this deal matters, too. By locking up Berríos for the next seven seasons, the door is now open for the Blue Jays to explore shorter-term deals with available starters, along with other long-term options. There’s also a great deal of value in the added financial certainty beyond this season, especially since young stars like Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and Teoscar Hernández are candidates for early extensions as well.

This falls in line with the Blue Jays’ recent trend of big spending, which should continue in the coming months. It started in December 2019, when Ryu signed a four-year, $80 million deal, and it continued last offseason, when George Springer signed a six-year deal worth a club record $150 million. Berríos’ extension ties Vernon Wells’ seven-year, $126 million extension from 2006 for the longest in club history; the total value makes it the second-largest, behind only Springer.

Latino Sports congratulates Bayamón native, José Orlando Berríos AKA La Makina (the machine) on his new contract with the Toronto Blue Jays

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