Blue Jays: An in-depth analysis of trading with the Athletics
Acquiring all-star Josh Donaldson
It was a cold night in Halifax, Nova Scotia when I found out that the Blue Jays had acquired Josh Donaldson. Late evening on November 28, 2014, Toronto had acquired Donaldson from the A’s in exchange for Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin, and Franklin Barreto.
At the time of the trade, this seemed like a classic Billy Beane move. Acquire prospects and solid starters in exchange for a player that the team was not willing to pay an outstanding amount of money for moving forward. I am sure they used some analytic “moneyball” tactics to choose who they wanted in return as well. Considering Josh Donaldson was just coming off an all-star season, this seemed like the opportune time to move him in Beane’s eyes, while the value was high.
Each player traded to the Athletics had quite a bit of upside and potential, but most did not pan out on the team. Brett Lawrie and Sean Nolin only lasted one season with their new team before being moved in 2015. Neither contributed much with Oakland and have had a rough time in the major leagues ever since, with both players not seeing big league action since 2015 (Nolin) and 2016 (Lawrie) due to injuries and poor performance in the minor leagues.
Kendall Graveman carved up four years in Oakland, with his era sitting around 4.10. He signed with the Chicago Cubs as a free agent for the 2019 season while still rehabbing from tommy john surgery the season prior.
Franklin Barreto didn’t make his major league debut until 2017, but he has been used as a bench player predominantly over the past two years. It has been reported by many news outlets such as Fangraphs that Barreto was the guy that Beane really wanted, and that he hasn’t lived up to the potential that the Athletics had hoped he would. Given that he is only 23, that could change over time, but he faces an uphill battle with the recent acquisition of Jurickson Profar via trade.
The only player coming back to the Blue Jays was Josh Donaldson. Coming off an all-star season, many hoped he would live up to the hype that he had while with the Athletics, and he did not disappoint. He did however go straight to arbitration with the Jays, which he lost. Welcome to the Six.
Over the course of four seasons, Donaldson would go on to be win various awards, like the AL MVP, 2X silver slugger, 2X all-star, and a Hank Aaron award. He would also be influential in the Jays playoff runs in 2015 and 2016, with his most memorable moment being the series clinching run on an error during the 2016 ALDS against the Texas Rangers.
While he did have a few good seasons with the Jays, Donaldson did leave in 2018 on a bit of a sour note. A season away from being a free agent, the Jays had not commited to extending Josh Donaldson, and he would go on to suffer shoulder and calf injuries throughout the season before being traded to the Cleveland Indians just prior to the start of September. He would not even play for the Jays before he was traded, as he was on the 60 day disabled list at the time.
Who won the trade? The Blue Jays did 100%. No questions asked. Donaldson was much more influential than many of the players sent to Oakland, who have not all panned out accordingly or were traded for low tier prospects. We got Billy on that one.