Two months in Toronto were enough for José Berríos to feel at home.
The chemistry and camaraderie in the clubhouse, coupled with the diversity and love of baseball within the city, were crucial factors in Berríos’ decision to sign a successful seven-year contract with the Blue. Jays of Toronto.
The 27-year-old right-hander officially signed his $ 131 million extension on Thursday, a move that places the team with a top starter for the team’s predictable window of competition.
“When I got here in 2021, the way they treated me, the skills they gave me to be a better person, a better player and a better teammate, that shaped my spirit (signing a extension), “Berríos said in a statement. press conference Thursday, alongside Toronto General Manager Ross Atkins at Rogers Center. “We have a great opportunity, obviously. I’m grateful and happy for the decision I made. I think all of that stuff made me decide not to wait for the free agency year and to make that decision now. I feel really comfortable, and the group that we have, I’m sure we’re going to be in good shape for the next seven years. “
Berríos was acquired by the Blue Jays on the 2021 trade deadline after spending his first five and a half years in MLB with the Minnesota Twins, joining Toronto in the middle of a hectic playoff run as the team returned to home after two years away. He still had a year of team control before becoming a free agent in 2022. From now on, Berríos won’t hit the free market until at least 2028.
His overtime is the latest move from a team that has been in the headlines for spending so much lately.
The Puerto Rican native joins Hyun-Jin Ryu and George Springer in a group of veterans who have so far integrated well with rising Blue Jays superstars such as Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Alek Manoah and Lourdes. Gurriel Jr.
“Since my childhood, I have always dreamed of seeing myself in a big moment, of playing a World Series match,” said Berríos. “I can say we have the group, we have the talent. And also, we have a lot of fun there.”
The Blue Jays would like to make sure that this core sticks around long enough to realize Berríos’ vision.
“We are committed to keeping this group together for as long as possible,” Atkins said. “It’s been our vision since the day we got here, to have a group together that the fans have loved and known for a long time. And we want our players to feel the same. And, as José does so well. expressed how important they are to each other, sometimes it takes a long time. So we are absolutely determined to do everything we can to make sure that happens. “
That doesn’t mean, however, that the Toronto front office has finished adding talent to this squad. Atkins has spoken in the offseason of exploring both the free agent and trade markets as the club attempt to return to the playoffs after missing it in 2021.
Extending a consistent and durable pitcher seemed like the perfect place to start.
“It’s obviously very powerful in the short and long term,” Atkins said of the Berríos deal. “But we are committed to continuing to add to it from the inside and the outside.”
In 12 starts with the Jays, Berríos had a 3.58 ERA, a WHIP of 1.09 and kept his opponents averaging 0.236, while striking out nearly 10 batters per nine innings and n ‘ allowing only 1.6 walks per nine. He struggled for a few starts in August, but a few delivery adjustments helped Berríos regain his form and finish the year as the top starter in Toronto’s rotation.
Primarily a three-length player, Berríos mostly throws a curveball, sinker and four-seam fastball, while his use of shifts has declined over the years. He’s also become a reliable innings eater, throwing 192 executives out of 32 starts in 2021 – his fourth season of 32 career starts.
“Durability and reliability, I think, are second to none at José,” said Atkins. “He was as consistent as any professional athlete in the world, really.”
With Cy Young winner Robbie Ray and Steven Matz hitting free agents – and no guarantees they’ll return to Toronto despite the squad’s interest – you can see how crucial he was for the Blue Jays. to lock Berríos into this rotation for the coming years. Manoah and Ryu are expected to return as key parts of the rotation next year, while young prospects such as Nate Pearson, Thomas Hatch and Anthony Kay will also have the opportunity to compete for a spot, though their ability to become reliable in the league starters by next year is anything but certain.
Interest in an extension was mutual between the Jays and Berríos.
As a husband and father of three, Berríos looked beyond the winning mentality and welcoming environment within the organization before deciding to make a long-term commitment to the city.
“(My family) enjoyed everything and every second they spent here in Toronto,” said Berríos. “Most of the diversity I’ve seen here… this city is a social city, it’s big. I love the way people are here. Here we can be human. We can go out there. , feel safe, do your thing and have fun. I have three kids and my wife, so I really feel comfortable spending my next seven years here in the city. “
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