The Braves' more aggressive approach on the international market has resulted in the signing of Cuban outfielder Dian Toscano.
To make room for Toscano on the 40-man major league roster, the Braves designated outfielder Jose Constanza for assignment.
Toscano's deal is for a reported $6 million over the next four seasons. There is a buyout for 2019 at $1.5 million, according to MLB.com.
There is not a whole lot known about Toscano since he was never on one of Cuba's national teams. Atlanta scouted Toscano several times, with newly hired international scouting director Gordon Blakeley leading the effort.
Toscano is a 25-year-old left-handed hitter who is 5-10 and weighs right at 200 pounds. He hit .356 with a .440 OBP and a .452 slugging percentage for Villa Clara in Cuba's Serie Nacional, which is considered the premier league in Cuba.
Reports say he has good strike-zone awareness, which is part of the profile the Braves have searched for all offseason in trying to get away from the swing-and-miss players from the 2014 season.
Defensively, Toscano does not have a very good arm, which could limit him to left field.
Toscano's salary is not part of Atlanta's international pool since he's played five seasons in Serie Nacional.
The Braves believe Toscano will need some time in the minor leagues before he is ready for the big leagues. They expect him to be in Triple-A to start the season. There is an outside chance he could play first in Double-A. Spring training will determine his destination.
“We are very excited to come to terms with a player of Dian’s ability,” said John Hart, Braves’ president of baseball operations in a release. “As we look to add depth to our organization, the international market is very important to us and expanding our search into Cuba is a significant step.”
Atlanta's efforts on the international market will continue as they try to sign another Cuban player, infielder Hector Olivera. The Braves are hopeful he can play the outfield, as well. The price tag for Olivera might be considerably higher than Toscano's deal.
Constanza has spent parts of the last four seasons on the Atlanta roster. He's hit a combined .273 with two home runs, 17 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 112 games.
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Braves replace Constanza with Toscano
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