TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays added a third all-star for the heart of their lineup in Josh Donaldson via a stunning trade that cost them supremely talented but underachieving Brett Lawrie, promising young pitchers Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman and shortstop prospect Franklin Barreto.
There should be few complaints about the price paid to the Oakland Athletics on Friday night for the MVP-calibre third baseman, the latest import into a rapidly changing lineup. A potential top five of Jose Reyes, Russ Martin, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Donaldson is easily among the most imposing in baseball, and that’s with plenty of movement left in the off-season.
Donaldson’s Baseball Reference WAR of 8.0 and 7.4 over the past two seasons was second only in the American League to Mike Trout, and a move away from the cavernous AL West ballparks into the far more hitter friendly AL East should only make him even more productive.
The soon to be 29-year-old – his birthday is on Dec. 8 – can also play a little defence and comes with four years of club control, one more than Lawrie had.
This looks like a win in so many ways for the Blue Jays.
Dealing with Lawrie and his recurring oblique problems is now a matter for the Athletics. The 24-year-old has the talent to be the type of player Donaldson already is but hasn’t been able to stay on the field, appearing in just 70 contests last year.
The Blue Jays have been seeking players with more durability and Donaldson has been that, playing in 316 of 324 regular season games the last two seasons.
Nolin, 24, and Graveman, 23, are among the surplus of young arms who would have been fighting for places on the Blue Jays’ staff in 2015.
Barreto, an 18-year-old shortstop, impressed mightily at single-A Vancouver this past season where he posted an .865 OPS in 73 games, and may develop into a piece the Blue Jays will one day miss.