Something was cooking.
According to reports that are flooding in from everywhere now, the Blue Jays have traded Brett Lawrie, Sean Nolin, Kendall Graveman, and Franklin Barreto for Josh Donaldson.
This, folks, is seriously terrific.
Put your flaccid mapleness away for a second and look at this: 7.7 and 6.4.
Those are Donaldson’s WAR totals in each of the last two years, according to the FanGraphs version of the metric. He was first and second (by 0.2) among MLB third basemen in those years respectively. He hit 24 and 29 home runs — in Oakland. He walks at an above average rate. He plays tremendous defence (UZR of 15.5 in 2014, DRS of +20). He put up a 147 wRC+ in 2013, and a 129 this year.
He is a tremendous, tremendous player.
He’s also under team control for four more years. He is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, as a Super Two, having two years and 158 days of MLB service.
Brett Lawrie is under control for a year less.
Now, also going the other way is a lot of value: Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman — nice enough depth arms, and possibly better, who will certainly look good in Oakland — and Franklin Barreto, an excellent shortstop prospect (who may not stick at the position, though reports from this season have been better than previous years) and who seems certain to hit. He’s a nice replacement for Addison Russell, who the A’s lost in the Jeff Samardzija trade, but still a ways off, at just 18 years old.
But that’s the price you’ll pay for the best third baseman in baseball. And while this could all blow up in their faces — Brett Lawrie can still be very, very good, as could the other pieces, especially Barreto — holy fucking awesome, for the here-and-now, this is terrific.
I know, I know, the Golden Brett. And I know, once again the Jays are using precious resources to fill a position that they already had basically set. And Donaldson is yet another right-handed bat (and he’s been very good, but less spectacular against same-sided pitching). But it’s a huge improvement over what they got last year. And with the health issues from Lawrie… it’s hard not to love.
And if you want to care about some other kind of stuff, too, there’s also the way this fits right into the culture change aspect of the Jays off-season. In fact, Shi Davidi was on Prime Time Sports on Friday evening in Toronto and he said that the manager wanted there to be more “mature adults” in the room, and that there weren’t enough.
I’ve heard these exact rumblings, too — not that it hasn’t been obvious what’s going on, and not that they haven’t exactly been written about.
Exit Lind, Rasmus, Gose, and now Lawrie. Enter Martin and enter Donaldson. If you want to care about that stuff, I suppose it works. Better still, they work as baseball moves. They really, really, really work as baseball moves.
Image via Keith Allison/Flickr