When I first heard of the trade, my first thought was that there must be something wrong with Josh Donaldson. He has finished in the top ten in the American League voting in each of the last two years (fourth in 2013, eighth last year). He’s in his prime. And, best of all, the Jays have him under team control for several more years – he actually has less service time than Brett Lawrie. Why on earth would the A’s trade him?
Since Donaldson appears to be perfectly okay, I can see two reasons to trade him. One is the package of talent that Oakland received: a serviceable replacement at third in Lawrie, a highly-rated minor-league teenage shortstop, and two decent starting pitching prospects. The other is that the A’s general manager, Billy Beane, is not exactly the cautious type – he won’t flinch from making trades that other GMs would be too scared to consider.
I have no idea how Donaldson will do in Toronto. Many players traded to the Blue Jays don’t adjust well to the artificial turf and being in a foreign country. Others adapt well to the home-run friendly Rogers Centre. He seems happy to be here, which is a good sign. If all works out well, a starting lineup fronted by Jose Reyes, Russell Martin, Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Edwin Encarnacion (what order would you put them in?) could do quite well indeed.