In case you’ve had zero communication to the outside world in the past couple weeks, Billy Beane got the offseason rolling trading All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson and All-Star first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss.
I have no issues whatsoever with trading these players. If Beane feels the team isn’t going to be able to sustain success, he’s right for trading them since the A’s struggle to attract free agents. What I have issue with, though, is the return.
Today’s deal sent Moss to the Indians
for a package of stellar prospects
for one middling prospect. I get it — Moss had a down 2014. He hit .234/.334/.438 with 25 homers and 81 RBI. These stats, however, are misleading as he spoiled a great first half with a rotten second half: .173/.310/.274 with 4 HRs and 15 RBI.
The drop-off in production stemmed in part from a hip issue that required offseason surgery, and possibly by Yoenis Cespedes‘ departure from the lineup where he served as Moss’ protection.
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Still, Moss is an All-Star under team control for two more years. He is due to make $6.5-7MM in arbitration. Is that really so much money when the A’s are paying Billy Butler, coming off one of the worst seasons of his career, $10MM per year for three years?
And isn’t an All-Star under team control worth more than the Indians’ ninth best prospect, according to MLB.com?
Which brings me back to Donaldson.
Moss is a nice player, but Donaldson is superior. He is an MVP-caliber player and, in my opinion, the best all-around third baseman in the American League. He’s a workhorse and he’s tough. He fought through countless injuries down the stretch in 2014, and the A’s needed every last play he could make to reach the postseason. Oh, and he’s under team control for four years. Will Moss and JD start to regress in 2-3 years? Probably, but they are in the prime of their careers right now.
Compare these deals to the July 4 blockbuster that saw the A’s land Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. I get that Hammel was a somewhat-highly coveted asset at the time, but Hammel was a half-season rental and Shark will be a free agent after 2015 (and will almost assuredly not reach free agency with Oakland).
Beane landed these short-term acquisitions, while nice pieces, for a package headlined by Addison Russell and Billy McKinney, or a guy who has drawn comparisons to a Hall of Famer and the formerly second best prospect in the Athletics’ system.
One baseball executive told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman that “Russell is Barry Larkin with power.” McKinney is the seventh ranked prospect, according to MLB.com, in a loaded Cubs farm system.
There is no telling what the haul for Donaldson could turn into. I am optimistic. But it just feels like the A’s gave up a lot more to get Samardzija and Hammel, who pitch every fifth day, than they got in return for two everyday All-Star caliber players.
Again, I have no problem with trading these players. After what happened in the second half last year, I didn’t think anyone should be untouchable. I just think Beane could have gotten more of a return.