Now that people have gotten over the initial excitement of acquiring one of the best players in all of baseball, it's time to take a look at how it affects the team going forward. Unlike the trades with the Mets and Marlins a few years ago where the payroll and roster were thrown into complete chaos, this trade has a pretty minimal impact in those terms.
The first effect is that the trade opened up two roster spots on the 40-man (the only relevant roster during the offseason) as Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, and Sean Nolin were all on the Blue Jays roster. Graveman wasn't added to the 40-man until late this year when he came up to make his debut, while Nolin was added to the roster back in 2013 for his single horror start. Obviously Lawrie and Donaldson have both been on their respective 40-man rosters for a while now, which results in a net gain of two spots for the Blue Jays in the deal.
This is somewhat important as Alex Anthopoulos now has the ability to make some acquisitions during the Rule 5 draft in December or add players who are DFA'ed by other teams during this time of roster crunching due to free agent acquisitions. While the team had some fringe players they could have moved off the roster if they wanted to add players like Sean Rodriguez, the net cost of making one of these moves is now much lower with empty 40-man spots.
In terms of payroll the deal will have a larger effect down the road, but for the short-term the impact is quite small. Josh Donaldson has 2.158 years of service time making him eligible for arbitration this season as a super two player. Over at MLBTR they predict that the third baseman will receive $4.5 million in his first go-around in the arbitration process. Brett Lawrie on the other hand also has his first experience with the process this offseason, but is not a super two player and is predicted to make $1.8 million. Depending on how much time you think Nolin and Graveman would have spent in the major leagues next season, the 2015 payroll increased by about $2-$2.5 million with this trade.
Looking forward, with Donaldson likely providing massive value in his arbitration years his cost will rise quite high by his third and fourth time through the process. Lawrie will also be in line for a pay raise in the next two years, but will then become a free agent in 2018 making his total cost through arbitration cheaper than Donaldson. The obvious flip side of this argument is that Donaldson only becomes a free agent in 2019 giving the Blue Jays an extra year of control compared to Lawrie.
When all is said and done, this trade was more about the players involved than any sort of payroll or roster considerations. The Blue Jays gained two extra 40-man spots which could end up being useful for Alex Anthopoulos when trying to make some depth moves in the coming months. The team also took on slightly more money, but in the end no matter how expensive Josh Donaldson is in two or three years it won't be considered an overpay if he's putting up more than 5 WAR every season.