November 28th, 2014- Blue Jays acquired Josh Donaldson From the Athletics In Exchange For Brett Lawrie, Franklin Barreto, Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin
After a respectable 83-win season in 2014, the Toronto Blue Jays went ahead and added to their offense that already ranked top five in the majors in runs scored and home runs as well sixth in on-base percentage.
In late November the Blue Jays added a player many viewed as untouchable when they acquired Josh Donaldson in exchange for Brett Lawrie, pitching prospects Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin as well as infield prospect Franklin Barreto.
Donaldson had just finished top-eight in AL MVP voting in back-to-back seasons and was just turning 29 as the Blue Jays had their core three in place and the baseball world marveled at the power in the heart of their order. Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista and now Josh Donaldson. The Jays entered 2015 with three players who finished the previous season top ten in AL home runs and no other club had more than one.
Donaldson lit a fire in Toronto, much like his style of play, and his hustle never went unnoticed or unappreciated. Proof of this, a play Jays supporters won’t soon forget came in a 1 p.m. game on a Wednesday when he soared into the Tropicana Field seats, making a fully extended grab in the second row to keep Marco Estrada’s no-hitter intact with five outs remaining.
Thanks to Donaldson, the Blue Jays had found their swagger in 2015 backed by his American League MVP and he reintroduced the city of Toronto to October baseball as they won the AL East, ending a 21-year postseason drought. They eventually lost in the ALCS and would do so again the following year, but the baseball world was finally taking Canada’s team seriously again. They even appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the headline, “The New Jacks.”
Donaldson would also go on to win two Silver Sluggers and appear in two All-Star games during his tenure. He had an injury-riddled 2018 before he was shipped off to Cleveland in August but during his first three years in Toronto, his WAR was the second best in baseball among position players behind only Mike Trout.
It was one of the best three year stretches in a Blue Jays uniform and Donaldson appeared in 136 more games during those seasons than the four other players in the deal would play in Oakland (through 2018).
Neither Lawrie or Nolin have played in a major league game since 2015 and Barreto is still only 22, appearing in 57 games with the A’s so far. Oakland hopes for some future production from Barreto as the only other player in the deal, Graveman, will likely miss all of 2019 rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery. Graveman has provided the team with the most value in this deal so far, pitching 441.1 innings over four seasons with a 4.38 ERA.
Donaldson has since reunited with the man who brought him to Toronto, Alex Anthopoulos, signing a one-year, 23-million dollar contract this offseason with the Braves. With the Blue Jays in rebuild mode, some fans may be hoping for a parade in Atlanta this fall.
Jays Journal Contributor: Cam Black-Araujo