Rather than pay, A’s trade away Donald­son

Whether the Oakland Athletics’ ownership refutes it or not, they have plenty of cash to spend. They just don’t want to.

That’s what All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson tweeted on November 18, responding to a fan asking about his contract:

“They have plenty of money, my friend. They just tell everyone they don’t.”

10 days later, he gone.

All Star third baseman Josh Donaldson was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays Friday, a team willing to dole out honest contracts, for third baseman Brett Lawrie, two pitchers and a minor league infielder.

The initial reaction of angry A’s fans has been to blame general manager Billy Beane, but their anger is misplaced. Lewis Wolff and John Fisher, owners of the Athletics, are pure businessmen. Not baseball people. And this is a business decision, nothing more.

Donaldson turns 29 years old this December, but may not have yet seen his best days as a player. For anyone who thinks different, his total wins above replacement (WAR) ranks second among all position players, and just a hair behind Los Angeles Angels MVP Mike Trout.

His defensive WAR was good for seventh in the majors this last season, and his OPS+ (adjusted on base plus slugging percentage) hit 126 — meaning his .798 OPS on the 2014 season had a lot to do with ballpark factors.

Bottom line: Donaldson was going to get paid.

In a market where non-All Star third basemen are getting paid an average of $20 million per season, and with Donaldson hitting his first year of arbitration eligibility, the A’s would have been better off to offer a new deal.

That deal, though, would have had to exceed that of Pablo Sandoval. Fisher and Wolff weren’t going to do that.

No, the cheapskate duo that uses Beane’s brilliance to help themselves to the playoffs seemingly every season wants no part of a World Series. They want to rake in cash and use Beane as the scapegoat to keep their fans pointing fingers at anyone but themselves.

No doubt, a monster deal would have been just as risky as the potential upside. Despite playing nearly every game — he only missed four all season — Donaldson was playing hurt for the better part of the second half.

His shoulder would be wrapped in ice as if he was a pitcher during the minutes following several games, and other ailments invisible to the naked eye were almost always present.

That could lend to a feeling that his body could deteriorate, and then to discussion of whether these injuries could hinder his long term performance.

But there isn’t a discussion as to whether he is a player who wants to win.

His perseverance and aggression in dealing with his medical woes proves it. His day-to-day mentality, unwavering and unquestionable desire to do whatever it takes to win baseball games, says that.

All the players who stay the Oakland diamond say that, along with manager Bob Melvin.

Donaldson is a gamer. A’s ownership, though, are simply that: owners. They are in it for the money, not to win.

Surely there will be some finger-pointing towards Donaldson, that he wanted more money than to be an A’s player. To an extent, that’s true. But the extent is flimsy at best.

Donaldson deserved to be paid like the player he’s been. He’s earned it. He did his job better than any third baseman in baseball on the offensive side, and has the best defensive WAR of any third baseman.

He’s put himself into an elite category.

But much like what happened with Yoenis Cespedes, that means he’ll no longer be playing for the Oakland A’s.


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