Friday, November 26, 2021

Casual Berios left free agency to be with the Blue Jays

TORONTO (NWN) — Two months with the Toronto Blue Jays was enough to make Jose Berrios change his mind about waiting another year to reach free agency.

Berios on Thursday finalized a $131 million, seven-year deal to stay with the Blue Jays, eliminating his opportunity to become a free agent next season.

The 27-year-old right-handed batsman, a two-time All-Star, said his decision was made simple after gaining a brief experience of life in Toronto, when the Blue Jays acquired him from Minnesota on July 30.

“It was enough to make this decision because of the way they treated me, the nice welcome they gave me,” Berios said. “The way I spent my last two months of the season here made that decision much easier and more comfortable.”

Berios went 5-4 with a 3.58 ERA, starting with Toronto in 12, ending 12-9 with a 3.52 ERA. The Blue Jays won 91 games, completing one win of the tie for a wild card berth in the competitive AL East.

An enthusiastic Berios made it clear he doesn’t want to be short again in 2022.

“I can promise that we are going to do a lot of good things for the city,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Berios dismissed a career-high 204 batsmen in 192 innings in 2021. He is 60–47 with a 4.04 ERA in six major league seasons.

Berios said his wife visited him in Toronto after doing business last summer, but said their three children had not moved to their new home until the deal was struck.

“They love the city,” he said. “They ask me every day if we’re going to play tonight.”

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Berrios has “one of the best reputations in baseball,” adding the contract represents “a huge moment for this organization.”

“Beyond that talent and that competition and execution that you see on the field, he’s one of the best human beings in the game,” Atkins said of Berios. “This is extremely powerful for this organization, it means for the players who will be his teammates today and in the future.”

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Atkins said the Blue Jays have begun to lay the groundwork for discussing a new contract before the end of the regular season.

“When the season ended, it was one of the first phone calls we had,” Atkins said.

Berios, who hails from Puerto Rico, was ranked 32nd overall by the Twins in the 2012 amateur draft. He has never been on the injured list in his six-year career, making 32 starts in each of the last three completed seasons.

Atkins praised Berios for being “as consistent as any professional athlete in the world”.

“The dependability, the credibility of someone like Jose is extraordinarily powerful,” Atkins said. “We obviously attach great importance to it.”

It is the third $100 million-plus deal in Blue Jays history and the second in as many winters – Toronto signed outfielder George Springer to a $150 million, six-year contract last offseason.

Still, Atkins insisted that signing Berrios would not stop Toronto from pursuing other free agents, including left-hander Robbie Ray, who won the AL Cy Young Award with the Blue Jays this season. tha, and slinging infielder Marcus Semien.

“We are committed to continuing to build on that core,” Atkins said.

Outfielder Vernon Wells and the Blue Jays agreed to a $126 million, seven-year contract in 2006.

Pairing stalwarts like Springer and Berrios with exciting young sluggers Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bischet, Atkins said the emerging Blue Jays have seen a change in the way they are perceived among free agents.

“We are now realizing that the key players are attracting us as much as we are attracting the players,” Atkins said.

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