The Oakland A’s and Toronto Blue Jays did some shopping on Black Friday by trading their third basemen. The A’s sent All-Star Josh Donaldson to Toronto for Canadian born Brett Lawrie. In addition to Lawrie, the A’s also acquired pitchers Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin and minor league shortstop Franklin Barreto.
I’m sure A’s fans are wondering if GM Billy Beane has been drinking Jim Beam. For a team in search of offense, the A’s have just dealt one of their top offensive players. Donaldson has finished in the top ten in AL MVP balloting the past two seasons while Lawrie missed 92 games due to a litany of injuries (although he did hit a career high 12 HR in 2014). However, Lawrie is younger. He turns 25 in January while Donaldson turns 29 next month. Donaldson may have reached his peak while Lawrie is still in his acsension. Of course, if Lawrie doesn’t pan out for Oakland, they still have three other prospects who could yield results. So it might not be such a bad deal for Oakland after all.
Still, I’m sure there are A’s fans who are scratching their heads not only with the Lawrie acquistion, but the free agent signing of ex-Royal Billy Butler and obtaining first baseman Ike Davis from the Pirates. Although Butler did play in the World Series, he had the worst season of his career by statistical measure and Davis fared no better in Pittsburgh than he did with the Mets. And now we have Lawrie filling the shoes of someone whose feet was on solid ground. On the other hand, the A’s have long had the reputation for maximizing the talents of players either past their prime or perceived as underachievers. Butler and Davis might enjoy a renaissance while Lawrie could come into his own in Oakland.
But there is no question the Jays made out very well here. Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are a great one-two punch, but neither of them have had a taste of the post-season. Both Donaldson and Russell Martin have. They give the Jays a gravitas they have been lacking. Yet despite this I don’t see the Jays going anywhere in the AL East until they replace manager John Gibbons. He is not the right man to lead them to the promised land of October baseball.