The day after Thanksgiving is good day to hide news. The night after Thanksgiving is a great night to hide news.
But some news is not to be hidden, and thus the Oakland A’s have punched a second hole in their 2014 batting order by sending All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson to Toronto for a package that includes third baseman Brett Lawrie, right-handed reliever Kendall Graveman, left-hander Sean Nolin and 18-year-old shortstop Franklin Barreto.
The deal as structured, first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and the Chronicle’s Susan Slusser, had been preceded by a series of rumors that at first included the name of pitcher Jeff Samardzija.
Those rumors were scotched, though, and after additional reporting removed Brandon Moss in a potential deal, the logical eye turned toward Donaldson, who had been a spectacular surprise in 2 ½ years in Oakland.
[RELATED: Report: A's trade 3B Donaldson to Blue Jays]
In the wake of Oakland’s collapse from most favored team status, though, Donaldson became a prime chip. He and general manager Billy Beane are both headstrong, and Donaldson, who says he had been told he would not be traded this winter even though he was heading into arbitration with a likely salary jump from the minimum $500,000 to upwards of $7 million, Tweeted to a fan group in the last week that concerns about Oakland’s ability to spend should not be taken seriously.
This is true, to be sure. The A’s make money every year, but 2013 was a year in which they spent it heavily, to even less return than the past two seasons (a Wild Card loss to Kansas City), and this deal looks like retrenchment rather than reinvention.
Lawrie is a highly prized prospect whose four years in Toronto produced numbers of decided meh-hood and disappointment. The other three pieces are futures at best, which means skeptical A’s fans can assume their team are moving back to their pre-2012-posture as a team building for an as-yet nebulous future.
This trade, though, shouldn’t be linked to the Yoenis Cespedes deal, which was actually part of Beane’s attempt to go all-in in 2014. Cespedes was the main cost of getting Jon Lester, who was pretty much all the A’s hoped he could be until the wild card game, when he went deep into the game but couldn’t preserve the lead alone.
Moving Donaldson is different in every way, and may turn out to be the harbinger of more moves, perhaps even Samardzija. Nothing is out of the realm with Beane, and nothing is out of the realm here. The A’s are redefining themselves once again, perhaps to their detriment. And the winter is still actually still the fall, which means all the more time to do more to more parts of a team that fancied itself as close to the breakthrough Beane has never had.