Analyzing the Josh Donaldson Trade Will Take Time

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We can all agree that right now, this moment, the Josh Donaldson trade looks like a sure win for the Blue Jays. For me, it’s not that our All-Star third baseman was traded. Instead, it just feels like the A’s didn’t get enough for him. Sure, if Brett Lawrie stays healthy, and Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman develop nicely, next season can still be a decent one. But that is a lot of ifs.

In a piece by Ken Rosenthal on Monday, he said that he had the same point of view. That is, until he talked to one executive, who shed some light on the deal. According to Rosenthal, the exec said, “the amount of money that the Athletics save by shedding Donaldson’s four years of arbitration – and how they reallocate it – will help determine the verdict on this deal.”

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This is a very interesting viewpoint, and shows why he’s an executive and I’m a blogger.

The piece continues, “Well, Donaldson projects to earn $4.5 million in his first year of arbitration, according to Matt Swartz of MLBTradeRumors.com. His salaries after that, assuming normal health and production, could be $7.5 million, $11 million and $16 million, a rival agent said. And those numbers actually might be conservative.” Kyle Seager just signed a 7 year/$100M contract last week, which could inflate those figures even higher.

As Rosenthal states, those projections get Donaldson alone in the $40M range over the next four seasons. “Lawrie, who projects to earn about $1.8 million in the first of his three arbitration years, will account for some of that. But the other three players from the Blue Jays will be minimum-salary types for three years once they reach the majors. The deal, then, was not simply a 4-for-1. From the Athletics’ perspective, it could be a 6-for-1, 7-for-1 or even bigger by the time they finish redistributing Donaldson’s money.”

With four players already in hand, let’s take a moment to remember the contract that Yoenis Cespedes signed before the 2012 season. 4 years/$36M. Granted, Cuban players are costing more and more as they come to play in the States, but the argument is a valid one. Cespedes provided a large value to the team and could be had for an average annual value of $9M.

With the $40M that Oakland has “saved” from trading Donaldson, that money, if reallocated, can certainly have a big affect on the A’s moving forward. Lawrie+pitching prospects+18-year old with high ceiling+Cespedes-type is greater than one Josh Donaldson in Oakland.

Yes, the A’s are taking a gamble. They’re banking on Lawrie being healthy, and also prospects (see: Daric Barton), but there is a good chance that the A’s can come out ahead on this deal. As always, we’ll be watching closely and anticipating Billy Beane‘s next move.

Next: Is Samardzija the Next to Go?

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