Monday, November 2, 2015

Reviewing Hart's Trades: Gosselin for Touki

The Braves have been active in John Hart's first season at the helm to the tune of SIXTEEN TRADES! Sixteen deals involving major league talent going one direction or in both. Sixteen deals that include over 50 different players, a few draft picks, lots of cash, and two Uptons. It's been friggin unreal to see what the Braves have done.

With the season in our rear view, it's time to start reviewing each one of these trades. This series is going take a little while to get through, but hey, it gives me something to write about.

Trades Already Reviewed
La Stella for Vizcaino
Heyward/Walden for Miller/Jenkins
Varvaro for Kurcz
J. Upton for Jace Peterson and prospects
Carp/Shreve for Banulos
Kubitza/Hyatt for Sanchez
Gattis for Foltynewicz and Ruiz
Hale for Briceno
Elander for Cahill and Lots of Cash
The Craig Kimbrel Trade
Callaspo for Uribe

The Trade
Philip Gosselin to the Diamondbacks for Touki Toussaint and Bronson Arroyo

The Rationale
This one is easy to explain from Atlanta's point-of-view. They turned a backup infielder who had a .665 major league OPS to go with a minor league OPS of about .735 into a Top 100 prospect. The trouble is rationalizing this from the Diamondbacks' perspective.

Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images
On one end, the Diamondbacks shed about $10M in salary with this move from the roughly $5.5M Arroyo was owed for the remainder of 2015, plus a $4.5M buyout for 2016. So, there was some payroll flexibility here. And maybe Arizona had second thoughts on Toussaint a year after drafting him with the #16th overall pick of the 2014 draft. At the time of the draft, you could argue that Toussaint had as high of a ceiling as any other pitcher in that draft. The question was how far was he from reaching it because he was so raw.

But even with those potential concerns, the Diamondbacks essentially sold a great prospect to the Braves and in an environment where there are caps on draft slots and international bonus money, acquiring a guy a year removed from being a first round pick without having to pay from any of the pools of money that go to draft picks and signings was a coup for the Braves.

Losing Gosselin only hurt because Goose was a likeable high-effort guy who made the most out of not having a lot of talent. He had hit .266 the previous year while spelling Tommy La Stella against lefties and had got off to a good start in 2015 before fracturing his thumb about a month before this trade was completed.

Short-Term Results
Gosselin did make it back for a 24-game run to finish the year and hit the cover off the ball (.303/.382/.545). Chances are not good that 17% of his flyballs continue to leave the park, though Gosselin did do a better job at elevating the ball when he returned to live action.

Arroyo never played for the Braves and was later traded to the Dodgers in a mega deal that will be discussed soon enough. That one's going to take a lot of words.

Only 18, Toussaint continued to pitch A-ball after the trade. In ten games with Rome, he struggled with his control (6.1 BB/9) and gave up too many homers. There were times where he showed his A-game, though. On July 20, Toussaint faced Lakewood and shut them down over six hitless innings where he walked four and struck out eight. However, his next start was a nine-run stinker where he pitched just 3.1 ING. He was shut down for precautionary reasons in late August, which only cost him a start or two. His last game was a six-inning quality start where he gave up just one run and struck out five.

Long-Term Outlook
I suppose Goose could surprise us all and continue to hit, but I imagine he'll see his numbers travel toward a .700 OPS. He's got value as a super utility guy who can play short in a pinch and has moved out to left field. He even played some center during spring training. He's a guy who it's easy to root for even if he plays for the Diamondbacks now.

Arroyo has some post-2015 effect on the Braves depending on how their accounting works. As part of the Dodgers covering all of Hector Olivera's contract, the Braves chipped in to pay all but $500K of the remaining $3.4M on his 2015 salary. The Braves are also responsible for the $4.5M buyout for 2016.

But this trade comes down to Touki. Dave Stewart, when he defended this deal, balked at someone saying Touki could get it up to 96 mph. Maybe he was mad that someone short-changed Touki, who reached 98 with Rome. While he remains incredibly raw and won't have his training wheels taking off any time soon, the Braves have a lot of reason to love Toussaint and what he brings. He has ace potential in his right arm, but control will determine how close he comes to reaching it. One promising thing is that his pitches show flashes of greatness. The hard velocity with his fastball will get outs if he can control it. His changeup has a mature deception to it where he maintains his arm speed, but it too often misses high (translation: ball go far when that happens). His third pitch, a curve, has great biting action when he controls it and might become his best strikeout pitch

Regardless if Touki becomes a middle reliever or a starter at the major league level, this deal was a win by just taking a chance on him. He's got a chance to be tremendous and the Diamondbacks just gave him away. If the Craig Kimbrel trade wasn't the best deal the Braves completed since Frank Wren's firing, buying Touki off the D'Backs was.

As an aside, if you piggy-back this onto the Travor Cahill and Victor Reyes trades (the latter I didn't profile), the Braves effectively turned Josh Elander, Reyes, Gosselin, and about $15M in cash into Cahill, Arroyo, Touki, and the 75th overall pick of the 2015 draft - A.J. Minter, who missed his first season coming back from Tommy John. To put that into another streamlined way, they turned depth players into a pair of high-end prospects. You do that every day of the week if you can.

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