The move-a-day Braves made a big one late Saturday, trading infielder Phil Gosselin for veteran pitcher Bronson Arroyo and right-hander Touki Toussaint, who was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2014 draft and has been rated among the top 75 prospects in baseball.
Arroyo, 38, had Tommy John elbow surgery in July 2014 and hasn’t pitched this season, but the Braves expect him back around mid-August and say he could pitch out of the bullpen or in his customary starting role. That’s to be determined.
They’re taking on about $10.1 million guaranteed in added payroll with the addition of Arroyo, who is making $9.5 million this season in the last year of a contract that includes an $11 million buyout for 2016 with a $4.5 million buyout. The Braves believed it was worth it to add Toussaint, a former soccer player who turned 19 on Saturday and didn’t start playing baseball until he was 11.
Toussaint was rated the No. 4 prospect in the Diamondbacks organization and was No. 71 in Baseball America’s preseason top 100.
“We are always on the lookout for big talent,” Braves president of baseball operations John Hart said. “This trade gives us a young upside pitcher we value highly.”
“He’s a guy we really liked in the 2014 draft,” said Braves assistant general manager John Coppolella. “We had pick (No.) 31 and he was long gone by then. We had him in our top 10 on our 2014 draft board…. He was somebody we just loved as a young player. Very bright kid; I think he was 4.0 when he was in high school. All the trades we’ve made, we’ve tried to get upside arms, and we feel he falls into that category.”
The slender right-hander, a Florida native, has a 92-95 mph fastball and could throw harder as he fills out. He was one of the youngest players in the Single-A Midwest League, where Tousssaint was 2-2 with a 3.69 ERA in seven starts for Kane County, with 29 strikeouts and 15 walks in 39 innings.
“We probably talked about this for five or six weeks,” Coppolella said. “It was one where we felt like we could, with all the trades we’ve made we try to walk two roads — one is that we would help our team this year, which we felt we have. We feel that Arroy, when he ends up back healthy, can help us win. And then two, we’re trying to build for the future, and we obviously think Toussaint is a huge piece for the future.”
Arroyo is a former All-Star who made at least 32 starts in 10 consecutive seasons before blowing out his elbow midway through the 2014 season. He’s won 12 or more games seven times in his career, most recently in 2013 when he was 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA in 202 innings for Cincinnati in his eighth season for the Reds.
Gosselin, 26, is recovering from thumb surgery and expected back after the All-Star break. He can play three infield positions and left field and had a .282 average with eight doubles, one homer and a .321 OBP in 185 plate appearances during parts of three seasons with the Braves, including .325 (13-f0r-40) with four doubles this season.
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