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The Josh Donaldson Trade: What it means for the Athletics and Blue Jays
The Oakland Athletics organization has always been distinct in comparison to others; however they usually stand out in a relatively good way. Although no trade is black and white, the recent trade of Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays seems to hurt them rather than help them, overall. The Blue Jays acquired third basemen Josh Donaldson from the A’s for 3B Brett Lawrie, RHP Kendall Graveman, SS Franklin Barreto and LHP Sean Nolin on November 28, 2014.
The Days of Donaldson
General Manager Billy Beane has had a unique way of doing things, but lately the A’s fans haven’t loved his choices. Yoenis Cespedes was traded this winter for Jon Lester, and the Athletics immediately struggled after the trade. The Yoenis Cespedes trade was highly questionable, since Jon Lester became a free agent this winter. The Cespedes trade was one thing; he wasn’t their best player and his lifetime .263 batting average is nothing to write home about, the Josh Donaldson trade is another story.
Donaldson has been not only the best Athletics player, but one of the best in the game of baseball in recent years. Over the last two seasons, only Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw have a higher combined WAR than the budding ex-Athletics stud. He finished fourth in MVP voting in 2013, and eighth in 2014. In 2013 he had 24 homeruns with 93 RBIs and a .301 batting average. In 2014 his power numbers increased to 28 homers with 98 RBIs, but his average decreased to .255. His numbers are very good, but not crazy, so why is this trade so bad?
Josh Donaldson will not have been a free agent until the 2019 season! He is only 28 years old and is in the prime of his career. Clearly, the Athletics front office wants young talent to ensure a bright future. But perhaps they should stop worrying about five years down the road and worry about RIGHT NOW. In the 2014 All-Star Game, Oakland had six All-star’s representing their franchise, more than any other team. They are a talented team brimming with talent, and although they lost the Wild Card Game this year, they have made the playoffs the last three seasons in a row. They are clearly one of the best teams CURRENTLY in baseball; they prove it year after year. Surely one (or more) of three Minor League prospects will pan out, but if they want a chance to be World Champions they should have gone for it now, not later.
The American League West is not an easy division at all. The Los Angeles Angels had the best record in baseball in 2014, and the Mariners were right behind (plus they just signed Nelson Cruz). Oakland has now lost three stars in Lester, Cespedes and Donaldson, and those losses are going to impact them greatly in 2015. I believe the Oakland Athletics will still be a playoff contending team next year, but not a World Series front-runner anymore like they could have been.
The Blue Jays have made numerous moves in recent years to try to improve their team (Signing Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and Russell Martin) but the Josh Donaldson trade is seemingly the biggest of them all. They had to give up some young talent, however I believe it’s worth it for Toronto.
The Blue Jays have suddenly catapulted themselves into American League East front-runners (The Orioles may still be the favorites). Manager John Gibbons has the luxury of trying to piece together this stacked top half of the batting order now. Jose Reyes will obviously lead off, and if they could resign Melky Cabrera or Colby Rasmus either of them could hit #2. However that is unlikely, Toronto may actually sign Alberto Callaspo though, who could hit second. In the end, all of this is not the point. The Blue Jays can bat Josh Donaldson at three, Jose Bautista four, and Edwin Encarnacion five. That’s Edwin Encarnacion at fifth in the order, the same guy who has hit 112 homeruns with 312 RBIs in the last three seasons combined. With the addition of Russell Martin, they provide even more protection for the 3-4-5 hitters (as if they need it) and Martin also provides veteran experience and support for the mediocre pitching staff.
Who will win the American League East?
The Blue Jays are in it to win it in 2015; I would not be shocked if they won the division (which hasn’t happened since 1985). Their pitching is still not anything special, but their lineup is going to be scary, especially at the top. The Toronto Blue Jays may not win the World Series and maybe not even the AL East, but they are a force to be reckoned with in this upcoming 2015 season, and Josh Donaldson is a colossal reason for that.