For the Blue Jays, today marks the one-year anniversary of the Josh Donaldson trade with Oakland
Do you remember where you were on the night of November 28th, 2014, between the hours of 9:00 and 10:00 PM? Myself, I was in the middle of an all-too-early Christmas get-together when a startled friend yelled across the room, “The Toronto Blue Jays just traded Brett Lawrie!”
It’s strange to remember that as being the initial shock of the trade. Pitcher Sean Nolin and shortstop prospect Franklin Barreto would later be revealed as the entire package, and despite the heavy hearts of many as we said goodbye to the Red-Bull-fueled Maple Hero, it was evident that Alex Anthopoulos had come away with an All Star calibre player.
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Donaldson was still somewhat of a mystery to many Toronto fans. Not only had his late-blooming career kept him out of the spotlight until very recently, but the market in Oakland doesn’t get a great deal of play in Toronto or eastward simply due to the time difference. To the average fan, Donaldson was a great third baseman that they knew very little about. My, how the times have changed.
There’s no way to overstate the impact that Donaldson has had in Toronto, with both his on-field performance and blue-collar everyman personality off of it. From 41 home runs to the bleacher dives to an American League MVP award, it’s been a dream that Toronto doesn’t want to, and doesn’t have to, wake up from.
For the sake of nostalgia, let’s take a look at the 2015 that was for the four players that went the other way.
Brett Lawrie managed to appear in 149 games for the Athletics in 2015, and that’s great to see after injuries plagued him earlier in his young career. The results weren’t fantastic, though, with Lawrie posting just a 0.6 WAR according to FanGraphs. With a slash line of .260 / .399 / .407, Lawrie would add 16 home runs and 60 RBIs but struggle greatly with his plate discipline. Putting 28 walks up against 144 strikeouts isn’t going to cut it, but at 25 years old, there’s time.
Kendall Graveman made four successful starts with AAA Nashville this past season, but the majority of his playing time (21 starts) came with the big league club and he showed real potential. Producing ground balls at a 50% rate, a number that should certainly climb for him, Graveman recorded a 4.05 ERA and 1.418 WHIP. His strikeout numbers were fairly pedestrian and the young righty was not helped by an ugly defense playing behind him, but he should have every opportunity to open 2016 as a full-time member of the rotation.
Sean Nolin split 76.1 innings between AAA and the MLB in 2015, seeing the majority of his work and success come at the minor league level. In six starts with Oakland, the lefty posted a 5.28 ERA and struggled to produce much in the way of swing-and-miss pitches. His early tastes of MLB action have yet to be kind, but Nolin still profiles as a back-of-rotation starter and is in the right place to make that happen.
Franklin Barreto remains the one name that could come back to bite Toronto in this deal, but with Josh Donaldson on Canadian soil, the bite surely wouldn’t sting all that much. The small shortstop spent the entirety of 2015 with Advanced-A Stockton and continued to boost his stock as a prospect. Barreto put up a slash line of .302 / .333 / .500 with 13 home runs and 47 RBI. He’s still a few years down the road, but Barreto looks to be the real deal. Given what the Blue Jays have gotten from Donaldson, aren’t you almost hoping Barreto works out for them?
— So let’s hear from you! *Shines police flashlight into your eyes*. Do you remember where you were between the hours of 9:00 and 10:00 PM on the night of November 28th, 2014? And let’s be honest with one another, was anyone out there upset about the trade when it came down?