Josh Donaldson: What Blue Jays Fans Are Getting
If you hadn’t heard about it last night before you went to bed, you are waking up to a much different Blue Jays squad this morning. The Blue Jays sent Brett Lawrie, Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman & Franklin Barreto to Oakland for Josh Donaldson. Already, there have been arguments made both in favor and against this deal. But, mostly, the consensus is that this is a good deal for the Blue Jays; one that took some guts to pull off.
In his conference call with media after this deal, Blue Jays GM, Alex Anthopoulos expressed just how hard it was to make this deal. It was hard to let go players you spent time to get to know and whom you feel have great value. But, Josh Donaldson is a BEAST. Now, we all know how I feel about Brett Lawrie, but I think that @BringerofRain20 will make us all forget how much this deal hurt.
Donaldson finished in the top 10 in MVP voting in each of the last two years (4th in 2013, 8th in 2014). In fact, here’s a quick look at what he brings to the table:
Now, these are just a few numbers. His average took a dip last season, down from .301 to .255. That might be explained by a nearly 60pt drop in BABIP. Having said that, it is not unreasonable to think that his numbers could go up within the much more hitter friendly confines of Rogers Centre. A quick look to Fangraphs.com has me thinking his Steamer projections may be a bit conservative: .264/.343/.468 with 26 HR, 88 RBI may be a smidge low. With a walk % of 11.4 and 10.9 over the last couple seasons and hitting in this Blue Jay lineup, he could surpass this projection.
Although, that depends on who they have hitting behind him. The way it looks right now, Dioner Navarro would hit behind him. Pitchers may rather face the catcher/DH than He Who Brings Rain, which means he may see fewer strikes. What I like to see is that Donaldson doesn’t chase too many bad pitches. In 2014, he swung at 24.7% of pitches outside of the strike zone (the lowest in his career).
Defensively, Donaldson may not be quite the Brett Lawrie. He made 23 errors at the hot corner (17 of which were throwing). Granted, he played 150 games there, which is roughly twice the number of Lawrie. I have to wonder how his D will play on the turf at Rogers Centre. (Am I allowed to bring up turf in this case? I know it’s a touchy subject these days.) Except, it isn’t all bad for Joshy D. 2014 saw him with 20 DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) and a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) of 15.5. Many were worried that without Lawrie on the left side, the defense of Jose Reyes would be negatively impacted. But, with a UZR like that, Donaldson can help in that area. According to the Fangraphs.com Fans Scouting Report, Donaldson has improved his defensive instincts, first step and arm strength greatly since he came into the league.
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Contractually speaking, picking up Donaldson works out well for the Blue Jays. AA loves the fact that there are 4 more years of club control over the player. He gets one of the better players in baseball in the prime of his career for 4 more years. Sounds great! Well, the other side of that is that he is eligible for arbitration as a Super 2 player. He is projected (by MLBTR.com) to earn a significant raise to $4.5M. While it is a big jump from his minimal 2013/2014 salaries, it is a steal for the kind of production Donaldson brings. Even if his salary increase by the same exponent every year, if he continues to produce in this way (and there is nothing to suggest he won’t), he will end up being a bargain over the same production on the open market. This is a huge reason why this trade is a win for the Blue Jays.
After the trade, Josh Donaldson tweeted the following message to Blue Jays fans: “To the Jays fan base: looking forward to embarking on a new journey and joining a very talented team.”