Billy Beane on trading Donaldson: ‘That was certainly questionable’

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson celebrates a home run. (Frank Gunn/CP)

How to describe the 2014 deal that sent Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for four players who have yet to come close to reaching the Bringer of Rain’s level of stardom…

Swing-and-a-miss seems apt.

Longtime Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane – the architect of the ill-fated trade – opted for different verbiage when recalling the misstep, however.

“In hindsight, that was certainly questionable,” Beane told The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Susan Slusser on Friday. “And I’m being kind to myself. There were a number of reasons why, and Josh was a good player who became a great player — but when you make as many transactions as we do, some are going to be good and some are not going to be good.

“It’s with some mea culpa that that one can be judged. Fair enough.”

It was the first time Beane has publicly discussed the swap, which preceded Donaldson snagging American League MVP honours in Blue Jays colours as he rose to become one of the biggest names in the sport.

Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi, formerly assistant GM of the A’s, said those types of high-stakes deals didn’t faze Beane.

“I can remember sitting around having heartburn about what we’d given up in a trade and Billy saying, ‘Focus on what we’re getting, not what we’re giving up,'” Zaidi told Slusser. “You can’t get burned by the trades you don’t make — but he’s never let that affect him to the detriment of the franchise.

“The way trades are received — the notion that this is a really smart trade, this is a really dumb trade — Billy’s philosophy doesn’t change from trade to trade, and he’s secure enough to stick with it.”

There’s no question the deal worked out as a clear win for the Jays and a regrettable move for Oakland. Donaldson’s emergence was swift and undeniable, and the star third baseman has continued his dominant play as of late, batting in 12 August homers en route to one of the finest months of his career.

Questionable indeed.

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