D-backs deal 2014 first-rounder Toussaint, Arroyo to Braves
PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks dealt 2014 first-round pick Touki Toussaint — on the pitcher’s 19th birthday no less — and veteran pitcher Bronson Arroyo to the Atlanta Braves on Saturday for utility man Phil Gosselin.
The move, a salary dump of about the remaining half of Arroyo’s $9.5 million owed to him this year, reaffirmed the D-backs’ commitment to their young pitching staff, general manager Dave Stewart said.
"We’ve said we’re going to do what we can to promote our young pitching but also give ourselves a chance to have some savings to have an opportunity to do things at a later day," Stewart said.
The trade was also out of respect for Arroyo. The 38-year-old pitcher, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, believes he still can pitch but is still experiencing pain in his throwing elbow.
With a return date expected in August at the earliest, the Diamondbacks didn’t have a rotation spot for him, Stewart said.
Arroyo has not pitched since July 18, 2014. He made 14 starts with the D-backs last season, going 7-4 with a 4.08 ERA. He has a $11 million team option for 2016; the D-backs would have been on the hook for a $4.5 million buyout. In total, the team saved about $10 million by sending Arroyo to Atlanta.
"In respect to a veteran guy that wants to continue to pitch, it’s a good move on our part to make that move," Stewart said. "’From the other side of the coin, in order to move the contract, Touki had to become part of it."
Toussaint, the 16th overall pick in 2014 by Arizona’s previous front office regime, is 2-2 with a 3.69 ERA in seven games with Kane County. He had shown flashes of his potential that begins with a high-90 mph fastball, but there is plenty of young pitching talent for the D-backs to work with across their minor-league system — and on the major league club.
Arizona also loaded up on pitching prospects in the 2015 draft, selecting five pitchers in a row after picking shortstop Dansby Swanson first overall.
"Thank you @Dbacks everything you guys have done for my family and I," Toussaint posted on his Twitter account. "The memories made this past year are unforgettable. I appreciate it!"
At this point, the Diamondbacks still have plenty of promise in terms of their pitching prospects after dealing Toussaint, ranked fifth on Baseball America’s top 10 prospect list for the D-backs (71st overall) — behind minor leaguer pitchers Aaron Blair and Braden Shipley.
The starting rotation for the major league club already has enough youth. Arizona has liked the progress of recent acquisitions Rubby De La Rosa, Jeremy Hellickson, Allen Webster and Robbie Ray. Chase Anderson has arguably been the team’s best pitcher this year, and top-ranked prospect Archie Bradley could even find it difficult to earn back his rotation spot when he finishes a stint on the 15-day disabled list.
Arizona will also have to determine where starter Patrick Corbin falls into line when he returns from Tommy John surgery. He pitched 5 2/3 innings Saturday, allowing two earned runs and three hits, in a rehab start with Double-A Mobile.
Add that together, and moves could be made, even if it meant dealing a first-round pick a year into his pro career.
"It was going to be similar to what we had going on with (traded pitcher Trevor) Cahill earlier, and we’re going to be battling to find guys spots to pitch," Stewart said.
Arizona traded Cahill to the Braves before the season began, opening a spot in the rotation for youngsters Bradley and Anderson, and saving the team about $6 million. Arizona also saved $6 million by dealing Mark Trumbo to the Mariners a few weeks back.
Along with saving money, the deal gives Arizona a utility player in Gosselin. Stewart said he will be a valuable sub who can play second, third or shortstop.
Gosselin, on the 15-day disabled list with a broken thumb, is four weeks from returning. In 40 at-bats this year, he was hitting .325.
Gosselin played in 46 games with Atlanta last season, batting .266 (34 for 128) with one home run and three RBI. He is a career .274 hitter in five minor-league seasons with the Braves and was a fifth-round pick of Atlanta in 2010.
"Our scouting reports liken him to (Justin) Turner in Los Angeles," Stewart said. "Not that same kind of power but possesses that same ability to hit and put the ball in the gaps."