Braves take a chance on Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano

The Atlanta Braves have signed Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano, pending physical and some other procedural motions. The signing will not count against the team’s international bonus pool.

While I was happy that the Braves lost out on Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who I thought was too big of a risk, they seemed determine to add a player from that island. Every team seems to want a Cuban accessory.

Toscano is not as much of a household name as Tomas, and comes with quite a different profile. While Tomas is a swing-and-miss power-or-nothing type hitter, Toscano is apparently a work-the-count get-on-base type hitter.

While Tomas signed a monstrous six-year, $68 million deal with Arizona, Toscano has apparently signed a modest pact with Atlanta, though the reported ceiling of his talent is nowhere near that of Tomas.

That’s a $7.5 million gamble, $6 million guaranteed. Though spread out over four years (five with the option), that’s not too bad at all–much better than the gamble the Diamondbacks are taking.

The scant scouting report on Toscano comes from Ben Badler at

Toscano, who is around 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, is a lefthanded hitter with good bat control and strike-zone awareness.

Short guy, gets on base, sounds like a fourth outfielder, though clearly the Braves think more highly of him.

While reading the terrific article from Eno Sarris on inflated prices for Cuban players, I was directed towards the “Davenport Translation.” This formula seeks to take stats produced in Cuban leagues and turn them into Major League equivalent stats. Here are the Cuban League stats for Tomas and Toscano translated into MLB equivalent, according to the Davenport Translation (peak, age-adjusted):

Yasmani Tomas: .233/.269/.421
Dian Toscano: .215/.287/.304

Neither number looks pretty, but at least the Braves are only committing 10 percent of the guaranteed salary to Toscano, that Tomas is getting.

So just keep all of this in mind when you read the other stories that list the actual stats Toscano posted in Cuba, which look really sexy: .300/.399/427.
“Hey, he’s a .300 hitter, right?”
Maybe, just maybe, but probably not.

Still, probably worth the gamble at a million or so a year to see if he can turn into something more than a fourth outfielder.

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