Hot Stove Rumors: Josh Donaldson
While the MLB postseason is not over, the Hot Stove season has already begun. The minute teams have ended their season or been eliminated from the playoffs we have had writers who are not close to teams making pronouncements that certain players are already on the market.
Now, I have no clue if anyone is or is not on the market. I talk to writers out there but have zero front office connections. Even the few players I have met over the years tend to be a lot less reachable once they are in the majors. I get and understand this, and don’t mean it as a knock at all. I am merely stating all of this so people know that anything I am writing is not a rumor but conjecture based off of what are probably bad rumors.
While I admit these rumors are a bit silly, I still thought it fun to write about players who would be ideal guys for the Indians to target and if those teams decided to move such a player what would the cost to acquire them be.
I tend to deal with more absolutes when I write. If you look at my article history it’s a lot of draft reports and numbers based articles. So it was fun to shake it up and look at guys who are not the usual targets.
Josh Donaldson (3B, Oakland Athletics)
The first guy I wanted to mention was the first player I heard a rumor about this offseason. I don’t think the A’s had been eliminated a day when ESPN's Buster Olney came out and said the A’s would shop Donaldson.
On Twitter someone asked me what it would cost to get Donaldson and my response was nothing as there was no way they were trading him. I was then shown the report and thought about it for a bit. Of course less than a day after the Olney report a local A’s writer more or less came out and said it was all false.
I agree to a degree that people were a bit too quick to jump on the "sky is falling" approach for the A’s. Yes, they are losing two starters, but Drew Pomeranz should be ready to step up and take a spot. He is starting to look like the player many of us, myself included, thought he would be. The other spot will be a battle between Jarrod Parker who is coming off injury and Jesse Chavez who had a great first half before arm fatigue did him in. Plus they have AJ Griffin as a depth arm, so while the rotation might not be as good it’s still far from a disaster.
Offensively they are losing Jed Lowrie who was a fairly strong offensive shortstop. He was 13th among shortstops in wRC+, though it should be noted that for all the hate for Asdrubal Cabrera he finished the year 10th among shortstops in wRC+. On top of that he is a solid defender and with JJ Hardy suddenly off the market I think Lowrie is the top shortstop available. This to me means the A’s can’t keep him, and the other free agents of note are the much older Hanley Rameriz and Cabrera. Internally the A’s top prospect is a shortstop who is two years away. So there is little doubt they need help up the middle.
I specifically said up the middle because at second base the A’s are losing Alberto Callaspo who is nothing more than a stop gap type. For those who might wonder, the A’s number one backup middle infielder was Eric Sogardwho had a wRC+ of 67 which is 9th worst in all of baseball for anyone with 300 plate appearances. The worst for those who are curious is another free agent shortstop to be Stephen Drew.
So here is the issue the A’s: they need a shortstop and a second baseman. Both are typically hard positions to fill and while the A’s do have a nice prospect in Daniel Robertson he has never played above A-ball. The A’s can’t buy free agents, so their best chance is to trade for players who can fill those needs.
Now this isn’t the only issue for the A’s. They are also losing a top setup man in Luke Gregerson, and two parts of a platoon in the outfield with Sam Fuld and Jonny Gomes. Geovany Soto is another free agent which is important because he was their only catcher who was even average defensively.
So the A’s have a lot of needs. They don’t have cash and they liquidated their farm system this year trying to make a deep run. There would be a strange logic to trading Donaldson as the A’s could get weaker at one position in order to make others stronger.
Now Donaldson is an ideal fit for the Indians. He is one of the best defenders in the game. Yes, he had a lot of errors, but it is because he reaches so many balls in play. He was the second highest rated defender at third last year by Fangraphs' defense measure. Donaldson is also a right-handed bat with the potential for 30 home runs if he played in a park that wasn’t Oakland. It is 21st in the majors in terms of home run factors. Progressive field is 11th which is a pretty big difference, and Donaldson has been a mid-20’s home run guy in Oakland on average.
So what would the Indians have to offer to not get hung up on immediately if they called the A's about Donaldson? Well a year ago they could have lead off with Kipnis, but now after a down year and a big contract he just doesn’t work as a centerpiece to a deal. The Indians would have to start with Francisco Lindor and more than likely includeJose Ramirez as well. This would fill two needs for the A’s, with two massive ready improvements.
So what would the Indians do at shortstop? Well, it would be Mike Aviles for a year until Erik Gonzalez is ready. It’s not an ideal situation, but again, if you want an MVP candidate the deal would have to start with those two Major League ready pieces. Next would be the inclusion of someone like Tony Wolters who could be a super utility guy for the A’s and help out with needs behind the plate and up the middle.
The last piece in the deal would be Giovanny Urshela because the A’s have no one who could play third for them and at least Urshela is glove ready. He would be a third piece and someone who makes the A’s top 10 prospects list for next year.
I am not even sure this would be enough for the A’s, but it would be a supremely high price for the Tribe. It would include four of their top twenty prospects from the start of the year, and three of those players would stand a chance of making the A’s roster from day one.
Would I do a deal such as this? No, it’s not for me. But nothing less than this and likely something more would be the cost. It would have to be a higher cost than the Ubaldo deal from a few years ago and remember that it cost the Indians three top ten guys and one of the top twenty prospects in all of baseball for a guy who wasn’t as good as Donaldson and under team control for less years.
I will continue to look at hard to acquire targets that Indians fans asked me about the moment any rumor was connected to their name, so be sure to check back.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffmlbdraft, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Furthermore, their system isn't barren. Most of their top prospects finished at high A Stockton, but the A's have too long of a history of churning out prospects who outhit their own projections for me be dismissing them entirely. They have a lot more room to work before they panic and trade a highly valuable 3B who is only going into his first arbitration year.
Donaldson is one of the best third baseman in baseball period. He was an MVP candidate in 2013, and an AS in both 13, and 14. Defensively he's solid, with great range and strong accurate arm. At the plate he's a solid RH power bat.
Frankly, I don't care who they get. That is, if it's Todd Frazier, Adrian Beltre, or Aramis Ramirez. Donaldson seems to make the most sense. If a guy like Yasiel Puig becomes available so be it.
The Indians if they are patient have allmost a complete major league ready infield where three af the prospects are under 23.Two are switch hitter and the other a needed righty. Why don't we wait and see how good Urshela is.
The Dodger don't need outfielder and can use cost controlled players. I am thinking along the lines of Gonzalez and maybe Lee, Chisenhall in a straight up deal, and perhaps House in a straight up deal.
I can use Wolters or their choice of Naquin, Ramsey, and Moncrief as prospects to sweeten the deal.
To get value you have to give up value.
I'd agree, they have to keep the jems...but if it meant giving up one to get one I will make the deal. Id prefer the first package I proposed but I think the A's would want the latter.
In fact, I could see an expanded deal including Ryan Cook. Cook is 1st yr Arb eligible and would fill a need for the Tribe. Maybe a 4 for 2 type deal.
Donaldson and Cook for Salazar, Chiz., one of: JRam/Naquin/EGozalez and Adams.
My conclusions from the comments people made.
1. Donaldson a very high cost to get and many dont want to gamble the entire farm system
2. Many on this site dont want the Indians to trade Lindor.
3. Beltre might not cost as much to get than Donaldson.
I hope the Indians will try to pursue either one at the Winter Meetings.
I think you missed the point... It wasn't about what the Indians got in return - it was more - not every prospect turns out. I have no complaints about trading a potential future AS for a current AS caliber player. Nor, should we be over concerned with trading several prospects away, chances are only one or two will develop.
I do think adding Donaldson would put us as a play-off contender but I"m not sure it really puts us as a title contender (so selling gems like Lindor and/or Frazier is too steep of a price). I would package anyone else in our farm system and/or a #4 or #5 starter type.
Hey Homer, we still have an all-star and gave up 3 months of Sabathia, a number 2 starter for a year and a couple months of Lee and three major leaguers for Martinez. Not sure I would call that a bad return for three guys the tribe had no chance of signing. All deals could have worked out better but I think only one player did not make it to the majors at some time in his career.
What do you think it would cost to get Van Slyke? JRam? Shaw? Scrabble?
I think Scrabble for Van Slyke would get their attention.
The A's farm system is pretty thin, but I don't think theyll want a prospect led deal in return. I prefer to keep Trevor Bauer over Danny Salazar bc I suspect Salazar's future may eventually require a move to the pen. I know a lot of fans are critical of Treor Bauer, 24 next season - he is 1 yr younger than Salazar - and made huge strides this season inspite of his early inning struggles.
Back to Josh Donaldson, Donaldson would be here through the window of opportunity that seems to be opening for the Tribe. As much as I think they need to wait for prospects to develop, I think they could miss a chance to optimize the org. talent and add a RH hitting AS caliber 3b. Donaldson is not just an upgrade, he's a legit AS 3b offensively and defensively.
As much as I'd want to hold onto Lindor, if it meant bringing back Donaldson Id make the deal.
I could see Chisenhall, JRam, Naquin / Ramsay and Anderson getting a deal done.
Or possibly...Lindor, Chisenhall, Naquin, and Adams. That would be a bit tougher.... Maybe change that to Salazar, Chisenhall, Naquin, and Adams.
You have no idea what you're talking about and appear very stupid with statements like "fan-boy". Are you 5 or something? If you don't like Urshela that's fine, but just because some dipshit like you has condemned him to "role player" doesn't make his value less. Most of the experts state the opposite in fact. Some even ranked his play and value this past season better than Lindor's. That doesn't make him a better prospect in my eyes, but it certainly states that he is regarded a little higher than you propose. I'm going back to my civil conversation with Aaron now, moron.
No I'm not basing it off of one good year. I'm basing it off of development and your just starting to see the potential of Urshela IMO. He is 22 yrs old dude. Is it not rational to think that if he were 26 and had 3 years of AAA experience that his numbers would improve, possibly drastically. Trust me, I wouldn't let Urshela get in the way of trading for Donaldson, but I'm not giving up a young big league power pitcher as a complementary piece for Donaldson. We simply cannot replace Salazar or Bauer at this point in the juncture. If they could land Donaldson for the package you mentioned "My ideal package would be Lindor, Ramsey, one of Jram/Chisenhall, and a pen arm." then I would throw in someone like McCallister just to show my appreciation, but that will never get it done. Thus my point to this entire debate. On the chance that you can add Donaldson to the team and not trade one of the current SP not named House, then by all means do it yesterday, even if it means Lindor is no longer with us. I think you've misunderstood my POV on the matter and I hope I've clarified it for you. You did have another statement that caught my eye, and that was you think that the "future is now". I think you need to change that to "the future is starting now" based upon the young talent that is ready or almost ready to contribute at the big league level. The only players that will likely not be here in 2 years is Swisher, Bourn, Murphy, Aviles, and Raburn. I hardly doubt that they provide us the only opportunity to win. The entire SP staff is signed through the next 3 seasons, Carrasco is the first eligible for free agency in 2017. The bullpen is young and there is some nice depth in the upper levels.
No matter what happens one thing is for certain, this organization has improved as a whole over the past 3-5 years. I think we can all agree on that.
The only flaw I see in this article is the assumption that Oakland won't be looking for starting pitching. Samardzija will more than likely be traded, and a team can never have to much cheap starting pitching. Bauer's flyball tendencies would work well in Oakland.
Aramis will get a 2 year deal. Probably for at least $12M per.
You're basing your conclusion on Urshela off of one good year with the stick in the minors. To me, he doesn't have the pedigree and he has to prove he can do it consistently in order to make me a believer. Urshela's plate discipline, while improving, doesn't give me a ton of hope in his further development. .303 OBP in the minors... that's pretty bad. Add in the fact that he's playing in a hitters paradise in Columbus and I'd say there's a solid probability his numbers are inflated. To me, this is not a guy you keep 3rd base open for. Donaldson gives this team a whole new dynamic offensively and with the pitching staff in tact, they could make some noise. Urshela won't hit 20 ever in my opinion... all he offers is a plus glove and solid bat to ball skills. That's about it. The Indians needs to keep as many options open as possible to improve because the window is here... they can only upgrade 3rd and RF. They can't limit themselves for a decent, yet unspectacular prospect. They need an IMPACT bat... none of the prospects you mentioned do that. Hence, that's why I feel it's ok for the Indians to look into dealing from depth in their system in the OF and MI. I think you can get away with Ramirez at SS if you have Donaldson... but if the A's wanted Ramirez, I wouldn't think twice before including him. My ideal package would be Lindor, Ramsey, one of Jram/Chisenhall, and a pen arm. I doubt that gets it done (Like I said before, Hopefully a 3 team deal can be swung for a starting pitcher). I don't love the idea of dealing a SP because of the lack of depth already in the rotation. Anyway...
And I follow the system religiously, so I do realize Ramirez had solid on base skills in the minors. That being said, from what I've seen, he's more of a free swinger that relies on his speed to get cheap hits. I see a guy that routinely gets beat by high velocity pitchers... He looked absolutely horrible against David Price this year. Yes, I know he's young and I do like him, but I don't see much more than an average regular and that's mostly based to his defense. I think he's a fantastic utility player in the making and can impact the game with his defense and speed. I seem to be in the minority with him on the site, but I just don't see anything more than a gap hitter who will use his legs to get singles.
This Urshela fan-boy stuff has got to stop. He doesn't even profile to be an everyday player. Just stop. You're thinking irrationally right now and making a fool of yourself.
BA .275 BA .268
OBP .365 OBP .304
SLG .470 SLG .404
OPS .834 OPS .708
Looking at numbers only anyone would determine that Donaldson was a far better offensive player. The difference is Donaldson was 26 years of age when he played in his 3rd and final AAA season. Urshela on the other hand is 22 years young in his first season in AAA, and he actually started the season in AA. Urshela has shown improvement with the bat with every promotion. Does anyone not think that Urshela could post similar numbers at the same age and level? I think it would be a regrettable decision within 2 years if the package mentioned in this thread were given to acquire Donaldson. Sorry for going on and on, but it has been a good discussion.
How do you know how Urshela is going to do with the bat? I never compared Urshela to Donaldson. As of now Donaldson is a superior offensive 3B to Urshela and likely will always be at least marginally better. My point is that to acquire Donaldson you would have to sacrifice from other positions. In my opinion the offensive upgrade from Donaldson to Urshela isn't worth sacrificing a future with Lindor and whoever else that would need to be included. The Indians' brass won't do this nor should they in my opinion. Like I said previously, I don't mind trading Lindor as I think Gonzalez will ultimately be a better offensive threat but at least a downgrade defensively. I don't think people realize how good Lindor and Urshela are with the glove. To say their abilities are rare is an understatement and they have upside with the bat too. I just don't see a deal for Donaldson that includes Lindor, Urshela, Salazar, and the bullpen piece required to complete the deal as being beneficial to this team. Actually I think it to be quite the opposite.
On another note, you are dead wrong in your analysis of Ramirez. You need to look at his entire body of work, not just 249 at bats with the big club. His career MiLB OBP is .355 while being one of the youngest players at each level. That is exactly the same OBP as Lindor. Lindor has more power but Ramirez strikes out less. I don't understand how you came to your conclusion on Ramirez.
Chip, I understand what you're saying as I usually think this way with the Indians, but I think the future is NOW. Comparing Donaldson to Urshela's production with the bat is kind of crazy. Urshela isn't going to be a game changer offensively...
This team is close. Fact of the matter is none of the prospects coming up, other than lindor, is going to be a superstar. These guys are lower tier, solid prospects. Not difference makers. Donaldson is a difference maker with his glove, power, and OBP skills. I do agree with you on the pitching though. I don't think you can trade anyone in the rotation right now to get him. Ultimately, it's probably going to take a P, so it might make a 3 team deal with the Mets or someone who have some good young arms.
Well said sir. Anyone who things it won't take Lindor to get this deal done needs to give me a recommendation to their drug dealer. You must be getting some pretty top shelf stuff!
Chisenhall is NOT a valuable trade chip. Oakland is very sabermetrically centered, so they'll know Lonnie hit .278 with a .340 BABIP. His "good" offensive season is most likely a mirage, as we saw in the second half.
I think this is a move the Indians need to look at very hard. It makes sense for both sides. I'd be very hesitant if they insisted on a P in the current rotation though as the farm system isn't pumping out a quality starter any time soon. Maybe there's a 3 team deal out there somewhere if they do insist on a P though. I think it's time to go for it. I'm all for prospects, cost control, and building from within, but Donaldson, in my opinion, makes the Tribe a legit contender for the pennant. There's a 3-4 year window open right now. Why not go for it?
That's a damn good lineup if Kinpis bounces back. I left Chis and Ramirez out as it might involve trading them to get Donaldson. And I'm just being realistic in saying Swisher plays because we all know he's playing. Infield defense instantly becomes a strength (minus Kip but if he's hitting, he can afford to be below avg). The lineup is significantly lengthened and 2-5 have 20+ HR potential. And that will be in place for at least 3 years. Go for it Antonetti. It finally makes sense.
This teams biggest strength going into next season is its young rotation, so please stop with the ideas of trading Salazar for any position players unless you are putting him in a package for an established TOR pitcher. If you want to deal someone like McCallister or House fine, but I'm not even fond of that unless someone wants to overvalue them. While they have a starting 5 to compete with almost anyone, they don't really have the depth to sustain more than 1 injury to any given starter. I do think Joe Colon will be pitching in Cleveland at some point next season. He is so overlooked it isn't even funny, but the same was done with Kluber.
Ultimately, I don't see an acquisition of Donaldson as something that would create much benefit due to the cost of players already contributing or about to contribute. There are some fine young players on the cusp of getting an opportunity to improve this club. Guys like Urshela, Lindor, Gonzalez, Aguilar, and Moncreif are so close while players like Ramirez, Chisenhall, and Walters are already contributing while improving. The focus should be on freeing up a few roster spots to make room for them, not adding to it and blocking them. Just my .02.
I would wonder about the power though, I don't think you should assume Donaldson would hit for more power being in more "hitter friendly" Progressive. Progressive overall is more hitter friendly, and more power friendly, but that's because it's helpful to lefties. It's power factor for right handed bats is actually worse than the A's.
Really, there's no way you get a chance to draft high and then spend years developing a once in a generation talent and then suddenly trade him right when he's about ready to be a real difference-maker at a very reasonable cost. That would be stupid. Beyond stupid and there's just no way CA does that IMO.
He did trade Pomeranz but he was further away from the ML's and his ability to develop into a ML starter was very questionable at the time, same w the other guys. And that was for a pitcher who the year before had been one of the best in baseball!
I do think there's a potential matchup w Oakland on Donaldson, but Beane is impossible to predict. The whole lineup in Oakland is falling apart and JD is about the only really good hitter they have (depending on what you think of Reddick and Moss--both of whom are also arb eligible this offseason...)
I think Jim has it right. Chiz and Ramirez and someone like Naquin, Ramsey or Aguilar, or move on. Myself, I'd prefer us to target a younger RH hitting outfielder and let the 3B situation play out with Chiz and Urshela.
Chisenhall, Santana, Ramirez, Walters and Urshela
There is no way the A's are taking Chisenhall, Jram, and a OF prospect for one of the top 5 all around players in the game. I personally wouldn't mind trading Lindor in this type of deal as Donaldson has 3 Arb years left on his deal. There's also a possibility the Indians could buy out his Arb years and get a team option for a 4th year too.
I would start with Lindor, Ramsey, and a pitcher and see where that took them. In all honesty, it would probably take Salazar too.
Now is that worth it? That's a tough one for me as I think Donaldson makes the Indians a contender next year, but giving up someone in the rotation would really hurt. If there's a way to get him without destroying the rotation next year, I'm all for it. Donaldson will provide great defense and power, while Lindor is great defense and an average hitter. I think you get an equal WAR from 4 years of Donaldson and 6 years of Lindor. I think it's definitely worth a gamble.
Lindor's name has been mentioned..
Salazar's name has been mentioned..
Put the three together, wouldn't the Indians be a better club if Yasiel Puig and (a PTBNL like Grant Holmes) was the returning piece instead of Donaldson and a spec?.
and yes.. everyone already knows you can't trade a player until he's been with a club for a year from his draft/sign date..
Lindor + Urshela or Chisenhall + Gonzalez + Frazier or Naquin or any prospect P for Donaldson. That should get their attention
J-Ram, Chiz + Naquin/Ramsey/Moncrief or J-Ram, Chiz + Salazar for Donaldson and a pitching spec from A ball.
I just wouldn't even trade Lindor straight up for Donaldson.