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In most cases, you can rationalize why a trade was made and arrive at a feeling of acceptance or tolerance. Here, though, Diamondbacks fans seem just in their anger. â€¨â€¨
The best shot at rationalization with this deal is appealing to the existence of a greater plan; assuming the Diamondbacks have something else going on, and that the something else requires more budget space. There are a few problems with that thinking, however, which prevents it from feeling authentic.â€¨â€¨
Let's start with the obvious: free agency is months away. If the Diamondbacks are clearing money to chase David Price (or whomever) then at best this deal was made for 2016 and beyond. Given the uncertain nature of free agency, there's no guaranteeing the Diamondbacks could sign (or even appeal to) the players in question. What about a big trade then? Maybe. But doesn't it seem counterproductive to include Toussaint here when he could be used to sweeten the pot for Cole Hamels (or whomever)? Perhaps no team would have accepted Toussaint as the main piece, due to his youth and volatility, but as a secondary piece? Absolutely.â€¨â€¨
If a deal isn't pending, then the Diamondbacks had no reason to trade Arroyo at this point. Given all the talk about how Arroyo had no spot on the big-league club, it's hard to believe this same team went through a similar situation less than a year ago. Remember how Kevin Towers proceeded with Trevor Cahill and his unfavorable contract? He designated Cahill for assignment and sent him to the minors until he was needed. Arroyo might not have liked the idea of riding buses, but he would've had to in order to collect the rest of his salary. Plus, there's always a chance Arroyo pulls a Cahill and pitches well enough to appeal to a contender at a reduced cost. Ideal? No, but better than this.â€¨â€¨
So unless a bigger move is pending—and again, that seems unlikely—trading Arroyo now instead of waiting seems motivated by the desire to save money, which clashes with our top rationalization. We have no choice then but to assume this deal was mandated by those above Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa—from the same sources that forced Towers into numerous missteps. Financial maneuverability is only worth something if it can be used later. We'll see where Stewart and crew go from here, but right now it's hard to be optimistic about this trade or the state of the Diamondbacks.â€¨â€¨
What else is there to do other than feel bad for Diamondbacks fans? Feel bad for Gosselin, who (through none of his own doing) now serves as the public face of the trade. Gosselin's standing with Arizona fans won't be helped by the fact he's on the disabled list, has been for a month, and will be until the All-Star Break due to a fractured thumb. When Gosselin is healthy, he's a quality glove man who has good instincts. Alas, it's hard to see him sustaining his career .270 True Average.â€¨â€¨
The reason for such skepticism is straightforward: Gosselin doesn't have a good enough hit tool to overcome his lacking secondary skills. He doesn't walk despite a patient approach, and won't bop due to a contact-heavy mindset. Gosselin will need to continue to post a batting average equivalent to a plus hit tool in order to be an offensive asset—unlikely, seeing as how prior to last season he hadn't hit higher than .270 in a season since 2010. Luckily, there's enough here to see a utility man future. —R.J. Anderson
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Acquired RHPs Bronson Arroyo and Touki Toussaint from the Diamondbacks in exchange for UTL-R Phil Gosselin. [6/21]
Since becoming the point man in Atlanta, John Hart has restocked the farm system by adding as many young and talented pitchers as possible. The list of arms acquired by Hart is long, growing, and impressive. Shelby Miller is the headliner, but there's also Tyrell Jenkins, Max Fried, Matt Wisler, Michael Foltynewicz, Ricardo Sanchez and…well, you get the point. A raw youngster with front-end upside, Toussaint fits in Atlanta—and in its own way, so does the trade for him.â€¨â€¨
In addition to the young arm fetish, another staple of Hart's Braves is a willingness to take on salary ballast for a greater return. The Braves are no longer considered the financial power they were during the '90s, but lately they've done well leveraging what money they do have. As such, this trade boils down to a contrast in ownership groups. One is so unwilling to eat dead money that it would rather lose a plausible future asset than keep a bad contract; the other is willing to eat another team's mistake if it means gaining a talented prospect.â€¨â€¨
A team taking on millions to secure an intriguing youngster may seem like small beans to outsiders, but consider what Hart has pitched to his ownership group. Arroyo is owed what's left of his $9.5 million salary (we'll call it $4.5 million for easy math purposes) as well as a $4.5 million buyout on next season's club option. (His contract includes a trade kicker that bumps his prospective 2016 salary to $5 million; alas it's unknown whether the buyout increases as well.) That means the Braves are gobbling up $9 million—no small in-season addition for a team without realistic playoff aspirations.â€¨â€¨
What's more is Hart has made this same pitch twice before. Back in April, the Braves bailed out the Padres on Carlos Quentin's deal (though they also got rid of Melvin Upton's contract in the process) and took on part of the Diamondbacks' responsibilities to Trevor Cahill. Add the three together, and the Braves are paying more than $23 million to players who were released or could be soon. And that's without mentioning what's left on Dan Uggla's deal, which leaves the Braves with more than $35 million committed to players providing no value for the organization. â€¨â€¨Of course it helps that Hart shed salary earlier in the rebuilding process, and that most of the deals are short in nature. Still, consider ownership's willingness to absorb these bad contracts a testament to their faith in Hart—or, at minimum, a testament to Hart's salesmanship. Either way, Hart continues to show he's not too old to get creative. —R.J. Anderson
Ranked fourth on BP’s preseason Diamondbacks Top 10 Prospects list, Toussaint carried as much upside as any arm in the system prior to this trade. With a great frame and growing strength, Toussaint has more velocity in his right arm than he has shown this season in the Midwest League, as he's frequently sitting 92-94 mph with his fastball (our own Mauricio Rubio has seen him up to 95-plus when he needs a little extra). The Diamondbacks have been focusing his development on commanding the fastball, forcing him to dial it down in an effort to find the strike zone. The command is developing, but will take time and it is unlikely Toussaint ever displays a strong ability to locate the fastball.
The other focus of Toussaint’s development in the MWL has been his changeup, which is making occasional progress, but he still lacks feel overall and the pitch requires considerable work to become a consistently useable offering. At its best, Toussaint’s changeup flashes some sink and fade with good arm speed and the potential to keep hitters off balance.
Though Toussaint’s numbers have remained solid, particularly for a 19-year old in the MWL, they could be even better if he was allowed to throw his dominating curveball with any regularity. Shelved in favor of the two developmental anchors outlined above, Toussaint still flashes the occasional plus-plus breaker that can buckle knees and put hitters away. When fully incorporated into his arsenal down the road, the curve will add a bat missing pitch that compliments his fastball well and could make him a dominating starter.
It will likely be a slow burn for Toussaint, and Braves fans should expect the organization to be patient with a raw teenaged arm like this. If everything comes together as he reaches the major leagues, Toussaint has the ultimate upside of a number-two starter. Knowing that command may never be a strong point for Toussaint, and that his changeup needs a two-grade jump to approach average, it is more likely he develops into a very strong mid-rotation starter with starts and seasons that are more impressive than that role. —Mark Anderson