The Guardians announced Wednesday that they’ve signed right-hander Touki Toussaint, catcher Cam Gallagher and righty Michael Kelly to minor league contracts with invitations to Major League Spring Training. Cleveland also confirmed its previously reported signing of outfielder Roman Quinn.
Toussaint, 26, is the most recognizable and most experienced name of the bunch. A former first-round draft pick (No. 16 overall, to the D-backs in 2014) and top-100 prospect in the sport, the 6’3″ righty was traded to the Braves and, for several years, was viewed as a potentially vital piece of the team’s most recent rebuilding cycle. It was easy enough to see why. Toussaint obliterated minor league lineups in 2018, pitching to a combined 2.38 ERA in 136 1/3 innings — including a 1.43 ERA in 50 innings during his Triple-A debut.
It’s been mostly downhill since that time, however. Toussaint was solid but wild in a 29-inning MLB debut late in the ’18 season, and he was clobbered both in Triple-A and in the Majors in 2019 (as were many pitchers in the juiced ball season). He allowed 24 runs in 24 1/3 innings during the shortened 2020 season, and Toussaint hasn’t really found his footing in either of the two subsequent seasons, despite a move to the bullpen and a change of scenery that sent him from Atlanta to Anaheim.
All in all, Toussaint has a 5.34 ERA in 170 1/3 big league innings. He’s punched out a solid 23.7% of his opponents and paired that with a solid 11.1% swinging-strike rate, but he’s also walked far too many hitters (13.6%) and been homer-prone more often than not (1.37 HR/9). His Triple-A work has been better, but not markedly so; in 160 innings he carries a 4.55 ERA with a 25.7% strikeout rate and 12.6% walk rate.
Gallagher, 30, has appeared in parts of six Major League seasons — all with the Royals. He’s primarily functioned as a glove-first backup to iron man Salvador Perez, never topping more than 142 plate appearances in a single big league season. He’s tallied just 469 trips to the plate during his time in the Majors, batting .240/.302/.355 overall. Gallagher draws plus marks for his framing and has registered 11 Defensive Runs Saved in 1136 career innings behind the plate, though he’s struggled a bit with the running game (20.6% caught-stealing rate in his career).
Also 30, Kelly made his Major League debut with the Phillies in 2022 when he tossed four innings of one-run ball with a 4-to-1 K/BB ratio. The longtime Padres farmhand has a spotty track record in the upper minors but had a big year with the Astros’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates in 2021, pitching to a combined 2.70 ERA with a with a 29.5% strikeout rate and 8.6% walk rate. He was hit hard with the Phillies’ Triple-A club in 2022, but part of his unsightly 5.29 ERA can be chalked up to a sky-high .375 average on balls in play. Kelly also punched out better than 29% of his opponents for a second straight year in 2022.
Both Toussaint and Kelly will vie for bullpen spots this spring, though Cleveland has a deep and talented relief corps that might be tough to crack in the earlygoing. That said, either could be a fine depth option in the event of injuries. Gallagher will be behind each of Mike Zunino, Bo Naylor and Bryan Lavastida on the depth chart, as they’re all on the 40-man roster. He joins another former Royals backup, Meibrys Viloria, as catching depth in the upper minors.