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Diamondbacks Gameday Thread, #70: 6/16 vs. Guardians

Well, this is unexpected.

MiLB: JUL 02 AZL Indians at AZL Diamondbacks Photo by Wilfred Perez Jr./Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Steven Kwan - LF Pavin Smith - DH
Amed Rosario - SS Ketel Marte - 2B
Jose Ramirez - 3B Corbin Carroll - CF
Josh Naylor - 1B Christian Walker - 1B
Josh Bell - DH Lourdes Gurriel - LF
Andres Gimenez - 2B Jake McCarthy - RF
Myles Straw - CF Gabriel Moreno - C
Will Brennan - RF Josh Rojas - 3B
Cam Gallagher - C Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Touki Toussaint - RHP Zac Gallen - RHP

Readers of a certain age may recognize a familiar name on the Guardians’ side of the line-up. After scheduled pitcher Triston McKenzie was scratched with right elbow discomfort, they called up Touki Toussaint to start for them in the opener of the series at Chase Field tonight. If that name’s vaguely familiar, it’s because he was the Diamondbacks’ first-round draft pick slightly more than nine years ago, in 2014, chosen #16 overall. [With hindsight, we should have taken Matt Chapman] Despite the pic above, he never appeared in a single game for Arizona because, in one of the most controversial moves of the Dave Stewart era, he was dealt to Atlanta in June 2015 to get them to take on Bronson Arroyo’s contract.

Fortunately, I was able to find some of the comments regarding the trade.

  • “Welcome to the worst day in Diamondbacks history” - aricat
  • “You’ve essentially made one of the five worst trades in baseball history” - piratedan7
  • “Its like the Expos trading Randy Johnson to the Mariners” - AzRattler
  • “Worst trade in D-backs history” - preston.salisbury
  • “Almost as bad as the Red Sox selling Babe Ruth to pay for a Broadway play...” - smurf1000
  • “A dead pig. The corpse is rotting. It really stinks. It’s blackened and maggot infested.” - shoewizard

Fans were not happy, to say the least, but in hindsight, the D-backs actually won the trade. They got out from under the balance of Arroyo’s deal, about $9.5 million, Arroyo was terrible as expected, and never played for the Braves. But Toussaint turned out to be no good either. Over four years in Atlanta, Toussaint had a 5.46 ERA and was worth -0.6 bWAR. He was sold to the Angels last July, became a free-agent in the winter, and signed a minor-league deal with Cleveland. Meanwhile, the D-backs got back Phil Gosselin, who ended up being the best player in the trade, being worth 1.1 bWAR for Arizona over a season and a half.

Now, there’s a case to be made that the D-backs deserve criticism for wasting a first-round pick on a player who has been below replacement level. Of the 41 men taken, less than a handful have been less productive than Touki. Trading first-round picks is also not an approach I’d recommend as a long-term strategy. The Arroyo contract was a bad one too, costing $23.5 million for just 14 starts of below-average work (92 ERA+). But those factors aside, the deal as it was eventually constructed ended up a win for the D-backs, despite the opprobium heaped upon it at the time. Indeed, it may be among the best trades Dave Stewart made in his time here, despite fan reaction. Though that’s not exactly a great crop.

Maybe we know less than we think.