Touki Toussaint Rumors

Rosenthal’s Latest: Market, Phillies, Byrd, Toussaint

As we continue to read the tea leaves on the coming trade market, here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

  • With the Reds and Athletics playing winning baseball of late, the trade market is “tightening,” Rosenthal tweets. “No one is available, really,” a GM tells him. That jives with comments earlier today from Mets GM Sandy Alderson, who noted that very few clubs are truly out of the race at this juncture. Of course, much can change in a matter of weeks.
  • Nobody would suggest that the Phillies are anything but sellers, but the club seems to be in something of a “holding pattern” in discussing transactions while it waits to finalize its reported front office moves, Rosenthal further reports on Twitter. That is understandable, given that Andy MacPhail is expected to be installed in a critical oversight role in short order. He’ll presumably desire a chance to evaluate the situation and have a role in any significant decisions.
  • Some in the game aren’t sure whether MacPhail is the right executive to bring the Phillies up to speed with the analytical developments in the game, Rosenthal writes. But Rosenthal says that he believes that the organization and MacPhail are well aware of the need to modernize and will make that a priority.
  • Reds outfielder Marlon Byrd may now be a more valuable trade piece because of his recent DL stint, Rosenthal notes. Byrd’s $8MM option would vest next year if he makes it to 550 plate appearances, but he’s racked up only 205 thus far. Of course, he’d still reach the mark if he stays in a lineup on an everyday basis.
  • Rosenthal adds one interesting note on the Braves‘ recent acquisition of Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks. Atlanta’s current director of baseball operations, Billy Ryan, was Arizona’s assistant GM at draft time last year, and actually was heavily involved in getting Toussaint to sign.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Desmond, Toussaint, D-Backs, Samardzija, Cotts

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal begins with an interesting note on the Nationals. Despite a substantial payroll and a heavy offseason investment in Max Scherzer, Nats ownership is reluctant to add payroll during the season. Rosenthal notes that, in hindsight, we saw an indication of this last July when Cleveland paid all of the $3.3MM remaining on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s salary after the Nats acquired him. (Of course, the Nats were also willing to take on all of Matt Thornton‘s salary via waiver claim.)

Because of this, Rosenthal wonders if the Nats will consider trading Ian Desmond this summer to clear room for a different acquisition. Given Desmond’s struggles, the team could be better off with Danny Espinosa, Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon seeing regular time in the infield. Earlier in the week, I speculated on a possible Desmond trade after it was reported that the Nats were interesred in the D-Backs’ middle infielders, but Rosenthal notes that it could also allow them more flexibility to pursue Aroldis Chapman, Ben Zobrist or even a reunion with Tyler Clippard. Of course, Desmond’s offensive and defensive woes diminish his trade value, as well.

A few more highlights from Rosenthal’s column…

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Rosenthal that he usually doesn’t pay attention to media criticism, but he’s aware of the near-universal criticism of the D-Backs for their trade of Touki Toussaint (in which the team essentially sold its 2014 first-round pick to Atlanta). Rosenthal quotes Stewart: “The truth is we did not know what Touki’s value would be if we shopped him. There is a lot of speculation on that. People are assuming it would have been better, but we don’t know. There was an opportunity to make a deal that gave us more flexibility today as well as next year. We took that opportunity. It’s tough to say we could have gotten more. He was drafted at No. 16, given ($2.7) million. In my opinion, that’s his value.” Stewart continues to say that Toussaint has not thrown 96 mph with the D-Backs, despite some scouting reports and that there’s “some inflation of what people think Touki is.” Stewart adds that the D-Backs think Toussaint will be a Major League pitcher but not for another five to six years.
  • A brief interjection from me to offer my take on those comments: It’s odd to hear a GM openly devalue a player in this fashion, even after trading him away. Beyond that, however, it’s puzzling to hear Stewart equate Toussaint’s value with the clearly arbitrary number assigned to last year’s draft slot value. Having shown a willingness to spend $16MM+ on a pitching prospect (Yoan Lopez) this offseason, Stewart is undoubtedly cognizant of the fact that Toussaint would have fetched far, far more than $2.7MM in a theoretical free agent setting. Additionally, if they truly do feel that Toussaint will pitch in the Major Leagues, that makes the trade all the more puzzling to me, as my best explanation to this point had been that they simply didn’t believe in his future all that strongly.
  • Back to Rosenthal’s piece, which has several more quotes from Stewart, including the GM’s own admission of surprise to his team’s current standing in the NL West. The D-Backs were built with an eye on the longer-term picture than 2015, says Stewart, and they’ll need to assess how to respond at the deadline. To this point, the D-Backs have received inquiries on their starting pitching, but not on their middle infield. Stewart flatly says “…we’re not moving [Nick] Ahmed,” and calls a trade of Chris Owings “very unlikely.” Interestingly, that does seem to indicate that the new GM values Ahmed over Owings.
  • The Astros remain interested in Jeff Samardzija, and as Rosenthal notes, a move away from what has been a brutal White Sox defense would likely help Samardzija quite a bit. Samardzija’s .338 BABIP has helped contribute to a significant discrepancy between his 4.53 ERA and 3.67 FIP. Of course, Chicago’s porous defense doesn’t necessarily explain Samardzija’s diminished strikeout rate and struggles to strand runners in 2015. The Astros, Rosenthal says, are eyeing Samardzija and other pitchers, but the White Sox are not yet ready to sell.
  • The Brewers aren’t receiving very strong interest in Francisco Rodriguez, likely in part due to his backloaded contract, Rosenthal hears. K-Rod is still owed $1.95MM in 2015, plus $9.5MM in 2016 between his salary and the buyout on a $6MM club option for the 2017 season. Lefty Neal Cotts, however, figures to be in demand and may even be of interest to his former club, the Rangers, Rosenthal writes. Cotts’s 4.30 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but he’s held lefties to a .546 OPS.
  • The Cardinals might not be as urgent to add a starter as many had previously expected. The club feels that Michael Wacha can top 200 innings, and Carlos Martinez can deliver about 170. A bigger need might be a left-handed-hitting complement for Mark Reynolds at first base, and Rosenthal suggests Adam LaRoche as a speculative fit to improve the team on both sides of the ball.

Prospect Notes: Appel, Judge, Margot, Toussaint

Mark Appel may have thrown his last pitch at the Double-A level, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that the 2013 No. 1 overall pick is likely to be promoted to Triple-A following a strong Double-A showing on Sunday. Appel’s overall numbers aren’t great due to a pair of ugly starts in May, but as Drellich points out, the Stanford product has worked to a 2.17 ERA with a 24-to-8 K/BB ratio in 29 innings over his past five starts. Appel’s production at Triple-A will be worth monitoring, as Drellich also adds that the Astros want to assess their internal starting pitching options before exploring a trade for an upgrade.

Here’s more on Appel and some other top prospects filtering up toward the big leagues …

  • Appel spoke with MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart about his desire to join close friends and former Double-A teammates Lance McCullers, Vincent Velasquez and Carlos Correa in the Majors. He tells McTaggart that the key to his turnaround has been establishing his fastball earlier in counts in order to get ahead of hitters — something on which he has worked repeatedly with pitching coach Doug Brocail.
  • The Yankees have announced that slugger Aaron Judge will move up to Triple-A Scranton, as Jack Curry of the YES Network was first to report on Twitter. The massive outfielder cracked top-100 lists to start the year, and has performed well thus far in his first run at Double-A, slashing .284/.350/.516 with 12 home runs in 280 plate appearances.
  • Red Sox outfielder Manuel Margot has received a bump up to Double-A, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe tweets. The 20-year-old has slashed .282/.321/.420 and added twenty steals over his 198 turns at bat at the High-A level this year. Baseball America rated him the organization’s seventh-best prospect entering the year, crediting Margot with the potential to develop into a true five-tool performer who can play center field. We heard some chatter this spring that the Phillies were eyeing the interesting prospect as a possible piece in a Cole Hamels deal.
  • We saw a fascinating deal last weekend involving the effective sale of young righty Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks to the Braves. Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron discusses the deal in terms of prospect valuation. He reckons that Toussaint is probably worth about $20MM based on consensus prospect evaluations. While Arizona’s internal assessment may well have been lower, as Cameron notes, it still seems puzzling that the team cut bait given the organization’s current standing.
  • Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa weighed in on the Toussaint deal, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. La Russa says the move was all about opening budgetary space to improve the big league roster in the relatively near future. “The ability to to have some payroll flexibility is critical to adding a couple of pieces,” said La Russa. I don’t think we’re going to need a lot of pieces because we’re going to develop with this core. But if you can make the right move or two with somebody, that brings a lot to the table. Payroll flexibility is important.” Toussaint was a ways off from contributing at the big league level, said the club’s top baseball decisionmaker, while the D’Backs “think [their future] is sooner rather than later.” All said, La Russa indicated that the club simply preferred to move the salary of Bronson Arroyo to holding onto the lottery ticket of a young arm. “We’re not pushing a five-year plan, which is what Touki is,” he said. Does that mean, just in retrospect, since I was there, should I have told (former scouting director Ray Montgomery), ‘Ray, don’t draft a Touki?’ Maybe I should have, but that was my first draft.” The 19-year-old (as of two days ago) Toussaint, of course, was the first name that Arizona called in last year’s amateur draft. Notably, as Piecoro has observed, this year’s selections were heavy on collegiate players.


Reactions To Braves’ Acquisition Of Touki Toussaint

The acquisition of Touki Toussaint was a coup for the Braves, Jim Callis of MLB.com writes.  Braves president of baseball operations John Hart managed to add last year’s No. 16 overall pick by giving up Phil Gosselin and assuming the balance of Bronson Arroyo‘s $9.5MM salary (plus buyout).  The move sacrificed a bit of the present for Atlanta, but it significantly brightened its future, Callis writes.  Here’s a look at some more reactions to yesterday’s surprising trade..

  • The Braves have discussed Toussaint with the D’Backs for more than a month, but he wasn’t trade eligible until recently (June 12th), Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets.
  • The move will cost the Braves some cash, but it was a deal they felt they had to make.  “We felt the payoff down the line would be too good to just let it go,” Braves assistant GM John Coppolella said (via Bowman on Twitter).
  • The D’Backs sold Toussaint for $10MM, five months after paying $16MM (with tax) for Yoan Lopez, who is not as good, Ben Badler of Baseball America tweets.  On top of that, signing Lopez prevents them from any signings above $300K for the next two years (link).  Meanwhile, the Braves paid $10MM to add a Top 100 prospect and might blitz the international market in 2016 (link).
  • With spending restricted everywhere but free agency, eating cash for a great talent like Atlanta did for Toussaint is a no-brainer, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • The Diamondbacks are getting criticized quite a bit for the deal, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports isn’t ready to condemn them just yet.  Toussaint could have a bright future ahead of him, but he is still in his first full season of professional baseball and is likely years away from the majors.  Even then, he’s hardly a sure thing.
  • Steve Adams of MLBTR (on Twitter) can’t recall a deal being this universally panned for one side.
  • Arroyo said that he is disappointed that he didn’t deliver on the contract he was given by Arizona, as Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic tweets.  “The most difficult part, really, honestly, is the fact that I pitched for 10, 12 years for other ball clubs and gave them their money’s worth,” Arroyo said. “And nobody could ever say that Bronson Arroyo kind of shorted the team. But coming here, I gave these guys, I don’t know, 14 starts and seven wins. For a two-year deal, that was pretty expensive. That was definitely disappointing on my part. But that’s just the way it is.”
  • Arroyo says he’s hoping he’s to return in mid-August, but he also acknowledged there’s a chance he won’t be able to pitch at all this season, Piecoro tweets.
  • When you total up the D’Backs’ dealings with the Braves this year, they have traded Trevor Cahill, Arroyo, Toussaint, and this year’s No. 75 overall pick to save about $15MM, Piecoro tweets.
  • Toussaint took to Twitter to thank his former club.  “Thank you @Dbacks everything you guys have done for my family and I. The memories made this past year are unforgettable. I appreciate it!

Braves Acquire Bronson Arroyo, Touki Toussaint

The Braves have acquired right-handed pitchers Bronson Arroyo and Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks in exchange for infielder Philip Gosselin, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Both teams have confirmed the move via press release.

The move appears to be monetarily motivated for the Diamondbacks. Arroyo is owed the balance of $9.5MM this season plus a $4.5MM buyout (or $13MM option), tweets Rosenthal. The total guarantee is about $10.1MM. He could return from Tommy John surgery as soon as August. Prior to landing on the disabled list last season, Arroyo was the perfect workhorse. He made at least 32 starts in nine straight seasons. He owns a 4.19 ERA in 2,364 innings.

The inclusion of Toussaint in the deal comes as a surprise. FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel rated him the 114th best prospect prior to the season. Toussaint, 19 today, was one of the youngest players in the Midwest League. He had a 3.69 ERA with 6.69 K/9 and 3.46 BB/9 in 39 innings. He was the club’s 16th overall pick in the 2014 amateur draft.  Prior to the draft, he was rated No. 8 in his class by  MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis and No. 13 by both Baseball America and ESPN.com’s Keith Law.

Gosselin was a useful utility infielder for the Braves, but the presence of Jace Peterson and prospect Jose Peraza likely made him expendable. He hit .325/.357/.525 in 42 plate appearances this season. Atlanta will have to swallow the cost of Arroyo and the roughly $10.1MM guaranteed to him. However, in Toussaint, they acquire yet another young, high ceiling arm for their farm system. From the Diamondbacks perspective, the club will save money now at the cost of their fifth best prospect.


NL Notes: Toussaint, Castillo, Wood, Minor, Kendrick

Diamondbacks right-hander Touki Toussaint, the No. 16 overall pick in the 2014 draft, has hired Rick Thurman and Nate Heisler of the Beverly Hills Sports Council as his new agents, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). The 18-year-old struggled greatly in his pro debut last year but still ranked as the D-Backs’ No. 5 prospect, per Baseball America and Fangraphs, and No. 98 overall in the game, per MLB.com. Toussaint’s change has been reflected in the MLBTR Agency Database, which contains agent information for more than 2,000 Major League and Minor League players. Agents, if you see any errors or omissions, please let us know via email: mlbtrdatabase@gmail.com.

Here are some more notes from around the Senior Circuit…

  • David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com expects the Cubs to move Welington Castillo and possibly Travis Wood before the team heads to Arizona for Spring Training (Twitter link). The Phillies are one of multiple teams that have shown interest, according to Kaplan. Castillo has been displaced as a starter with the addition of Miguel Montero, and the team has also added David Ross as a backup option as well. Wood figures to battle for the team’s fifth starter spot, as Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks are the likely front four in the rotation. The Cubs also have Tsuyoshi Wada and Felix Doubront as options for the fifth spot.
  • Mike Minor and the Braves have an arbitration hearing set for Feb. 19, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That’s just one day before pitchers and catchers are slated to report to Spring Training. Minor filed for a $5.6MM salary, while the team countered at $5.1MM, as can be seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.
  • Kyle Kendrick tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that he had interest from multiple teams before signing with the Rockies. Though it’s clearly not a favorable environment for a pitcher, Kendrick praised the Rockies’ offense and defense as reasons to sign with the team.

Diamondbacks Sign First-Rounder Touki Toussaint

MONDAY, 7:18am: Toussaint’s bonus is $2.7MM, well over the pick value of $2.338MM, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

FRIDAY, 6:27pm: The Diamondbacks have officially announced a deal with first-round selection Touki Toussaint. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported that a deal was close (via Twitter). His bonus is expected to exceed the $2,338,200 slot allocation that came with the 16th overall pick, though precise details remain unknown.

The high school righty, who is still just 17 years old, was rated as high as the eighth-best prospect available entering the draft. MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis, who gave him that top-ten billing, say that Toussaint has a quick, loose arm and big curve ball. It sounds as if he still has work to do in commanding his offerings, repeating his delivery, and developing his third pitch (a change), but MLB.com’s experts feel that his raw stuff and athleticism give him an ample chance at success as a professional.

Baseball America (12th) and ESPN.com’s Keith Law (13th) both had Toussaint somewhat lower down their boards, but still agreed that Arizona received a good talent at its place in the draft. Indeed, in the view of Law, Toussaint arguably has more upside than any other high school right-hander in this year’s draft.

Arizona entered the draft with up to $7,228,300 in total pool space. According to Piecoro, via Twitter, the club has now inked all of its first twelve choices. Checking in at MLB.com’s bonus tracker, it appears that the Diamondbacks have saved $430.8K on their post-Toussaint picks, leaving a good deal of room to accommodate the over-slot spending needed to lure him away from Vanderbilt.


NL Notes: Toussaint, Phils, Pirates, Billingsley, Cards, Marlins, Nats

Here’s the latest out of the National League …

  • The Diamondbacks are close to reaching agreement with first-round pick Touki Toussaint, reports MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert“Touki I think is very close right now,” said GM Kevin Towers. “… Pretty optimistic we’ll get something done here shortly.” Toussaint, who was taken 16th overall (with a $2,338,200 slot bonus), was rated between the eighth (MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo) and thirteenth (ESPN.com’s Keith Law) best player available, with Law saying he could have the most upside of any of the draft-eligible high school righties.
  • Even if the Phillies decide to sell, it may prove difficult, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In particular, many of the team’s veteran players have not only no-trade protection but also vesting options (some of which appear more achievable than others) at the back ends of their already-sizeable contracts. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated, however, that those contracts should not be a major hindrance if the team shops its best players. “[W]e have taken money back on deals before and will do it again if we have to,” says Amaro.
  • The Pirates rotation is looking increasingly thin, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Injuries have accumulated on top of an already poor start to the year, and unlike last year the club lacks obvious internal replacements to step in and provide a boost. Though some attractive arms figure to be made available at the trade deadline, Biertempfel indicates that Pittsburgh seems unlikely to pay the price (in dollars and in prospects) to add an impact starter.
  • Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley says he is exceedingly unlikely to throw again this year, as Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports. Billingsley has been diagnosed with a partially torn flexor tendon. “If I do the rehab I would have a chance,” he said, “but the risk would be … tendon fails, that’s a six-month rehab after surgery. Doing three years’ rehab would be a grind.” As that quote indicates, it has already been a long road for Billingsley and his troubled right arm. He is in the last year of a three-year, $35MM pact that includes a $14MM club option for 2015. It seems highly likely at this point, of course, that Los Angeles will instead pay a $3MM buyout and let Billingsley hit the open market.
  • The Cardinals are currently hesitant to go shopping for a starter, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). St. Louis still has internal options for the rotation (such as Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez) and probably will not meet the asking price for top-end arms. One team that could be in the market for rotation help is the Marlins, Rosenthal adds.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says that the club is not looking to deal Denard Span or Adam LaRoche to allow Ryan Zimmerman to stay in left field when Bryce Harper returns, Rosenthal reports. Span remains an interesting name to watch, however, as Rosenthal notes. The outstanding defensive center fielder has failed to reach base reliably from the top of the lineup, but is under control through next season with a fairly reasonable $9MM team option.

Quick Hits: Trades, Coffey, Holland, Draft

While we’re a ways off from seeing trades of major significance come in bulk, ESPN’s Jim Bowden lists five summer deals that he think should happen to improve some fringe contenders (ESPN Insider required and recommended). Among his scenarios are the Blue Jays acquiring Jeff Samardzija, the Orioles acquiring Kurt Suzuki and the Braves acquiring Nick Franklin. Here are some more links from around the baseball world…

  • Free agent right-hander Todd Coffey is deciding between offers from two teams and could choose a destination as soon as tonight, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (Twitter link). The Phillies are said to be one team in on Coffey, Cotillo reported over the weekend.
  • Fangraphs’ Jason Collette wonders if the emergence of Wade Davis as a dominant reliever in the back of the Royals‘ bullpen will lead them to explore trades of Greg Holland. Davis is striking out batters at a higher clip than anyone in baseball, and he’s cost-controlled over the next two seasons, while Holland is a lock to get expensive via arbitration. Holland is already earning $4.68MM, and as Collette notes, his agent would likely use Craig Kimbrel‘s contract as a comp in extension talks. A trade of Holland could address other needs on the budget-conscious Royals’ roster.
  • While some have talked about a perceived drop in draft prospect Jacob Gatewood‘s stock, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo writes that the industry was “probably a little too over-zealous” with him last summer. Mayo has spoken with several scouts and cross-checkers who believe the powerful prep shortstop should go in the mid-to-late first round. Gatewood’s mix of power and swings/misses is reminiscent of sluggers Joey Gallo, Kris Bryant and Giancarlo Stanton, Mayo adds.
  • Mayo also profiles prep right-hander Touki Toussaint, noting that his affable personality is an excellent complement to his three-pitch arsenal — each of which has the potential to be above average down the line. Toussaint, who is of Haitian descent but was born in Florida, nearly gave up on baseball at the age of 9 to focus on soccer because of his difficulty hitting. However, he gave it another shot three years later and has been focused entirely on baseball — as both a closer and a starter — ever since. MLB.com ranked Toussaint 16th among draft prospects.