Touki Toussaint Rumors

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.