With the rumours about a still-strong Cardinals interest in Josh Donaldson, I thought it might be fun to imagine a Ross Atkins / Mike Girsch conversation
The setting: Ross Atkins`office. Ross is sitting at his desk. The phone rings.
Mike Girsch: Hey Ross. It’s Mike. How are you doing?
Ross Atkins: Hello Mike. I am good, thanks. What can I do for you (as if I couldn`t guess)?
Mike: I wanted to touch base on Josh Donaldson. Can we talk?
Ross: Always willing to talk, Mike, but we are not looking to move Josh. So it would take an exceptional offer. Were you planning to make one?
Mike: Thing is, Ross, we would only be getting a single year of Josh. As good as he is, I can’t justify offering you the moon for one year.
Toronto Blue Jays
Ross: Not sure I agree, Mike. Right now, with your moves to date (congrats on Ozuna, by the way!) you are an 88 win team in 2018, with decent luck. So probably a wild card team, but likely behind the Cubs for the division. And it would only take a bit of bad luck for you to miss on the wild card entirely (trust me on that one – after 2017, I am an expert on bad luck).
Mike: You might be right. So?
Ross: Josh is a 4-5 win upgrade at 3B for you. With him, you are a 92-93 win team, a likely division winner. Do you really want to play in a 1-game winner-take-all wild game crapshoot if you can avoid it?
Mike: OK, ok. Look, I concede that Josh is a great player and that we would love to have him. The issue is the price. What do you think of Dave Cameron’s idea – Jedd Gyorko + Matt Carpenter?
Ross: Both good players, but I don’t see it. Dave’s premise is largely based on Jedd and Matt’s flexibility. Problem is, Matt hasn’t played meaningful 2B since 2013 and the last time he played a full year at 3B he was a -10 DRS/1200. Jedd can play 2B – though he hasn’t had 400 innings there since 2015 – and 3B, but he is not really an MLB shortstop (-20 career DRS/1200) and he has a career total of two innings in the OF. So basically we are talking about a 2-3 WAR 1B and 3B. I see 7 WAR in a single year as worth far more than 2 WAR for several years, and anyway, Jedd + Matt are not what I need.
Mike: So what *do* you need?
Ross: Pitching, mostly. Possibly a replacement 3B, possibly a corner outfielder. How do you feel about Alex Reyes?
Mike: You *do* know that Alex was ranked the #1 overall prospect going into 2017, right?
Mike: Even so – hard to justify moving a #15 for one year, even of a MVP.
Ross: Really? We traded a #18 ranked pitcher plus extras for a HALF-year of David Price. And remember when you yourselves traded 4 years of Shelby Miller for one year of Jason Heyward? Miller was considered a rising star – and in fact he put up a 3.02 ERA over 205 innings in 2015 for the Braves, before netting them Swanson + Inciarte from the Dbacks. Heyward was coming off a 5.1 WAR 2014 and had averaged 5 WAR over his last three years. By comparison, Josh is coming off a 5.0 WAR in only 113 games in 2017 and has averaged 7 WAR over the last three years even including the 2017 injury year. No disrespect, but Josh is a better player than Jason ever was.
Mike: Look, I accept everything you say but I just can’t do Reyes.
Ross: OK. So as long as we are talking rumours, how about the one reported by Rick Hummel of the Dispatch? He says that the Jays would expect a MLB-ready 3B and pitcher, plus a top prospect. Would something like Gyorko + Weaver + Hudson be in your comfort zone?
Mike: We are getting closer, but I can’t do Weaver. He is a big fan favourite after his 2017 breakout. And even if we replace Weaver with someone like Flaherty, a three-for-one like this is likely more than I can do.
Ross: I hear you Mike. Josh is a fan favourite too. Looks like we are not yet on the same page. But let me leave you with a thought here. Since you are a Dave Cameron fan – going into 2017, he ranked Donaldson’s contract as the 14th most valuable in baseball. Just ahead of Chris Sale at #15. And you saw what Chris was traded for.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. OK, Ross – I think I will go call Dan Duquette now.
Ross: Always a pleasure, Mike. Merry Xmas! <click>