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Today in Blue Jays History: The Donaldson Trade

Also the BJ Ryan signing

Toronto Blue Jays v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Five years ago

The Jays made a trade for Josh Donaldson. Scott wrote:

If you’re reading this then you most certainly know about the trade that became official a short time ago between the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics. Heading to the A’s are Brett Lawrie, Franklin Barreto, Kendall Graveman, and Sean Nolin, while the Blue Jays receive All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson in return. The trade is yet another sign that Alex Anthopoulos and company are very serious about going all in for the next few seasons and have had enough of building up solid farm systems to come up short time and time again. By trading away essentially three top 12 prospects as well as the former Canadian third baseman of the future, Anthopoulos has risked his job and a large part of the franchise’s fate on this trade and the Russell Martin signing earlier this month.

Remember what it used to be like when the team would make some Clemensing NEWS in the offseason, so we had something to talk about?

We liked the trade:

I’m not sure that A’s fans would see it as a win-win.

From Josh we’ve had a MVP season and a season that was pretty much as good, another good season, with some time missed due to injury and then this year was a terrible thing.

And now he is a Brave. It should be interesting to see what happens. He turns 33 next week. He should have good baseball left in him. But, I would move him to DH or first base if I was running things.

The players that went to Oakland:

  • Brett Lawrie had a pretty average season (.260/.299/.407) and was traded to the White Sox for a couple of guys that could be sort mistaken for prospects, if you squinted. He was signed to a minor league deal by the Brewers this season, and they told us he would work his way into playing shape and then play some minor league games. He was released without playing in the minors. I’d think his baseball career is over.
  • Sean Nolan made four starts for the A’s and was lost on waivers to the Brewers. Last year the Rockies signed him as a free agent. He pitched out of the bullpen for their Triple A team. This year he split his time between the minor league systems of the Mariners and White Sox.
  • Kendall Graveman has been pretty ok. He made 78 starts, over the 4 seasons for the A’s, and has a 4.38 and a 23-29 record. This year was spent mostly injured. He signed with the Mariners a few days ago.
  • Franklin Barreto was the prize piece for the A’s. He still hasn’t established himself as a major leaguer. He played in 23 games for the A’s this year, hitting just .123/.138/.263. In Triple A he hit .295/.374/.552 with 19 home runs in 98 games. He turns 24 in February. Every year I think ‘this is the one that he’ll become a major leaguer and every year I’m wrong.

I was rather irritated when, during the season after the trade, The Sporting News ranked Billy Bean the best GM in baseball and Alex the worst. I know I shouldn’t let those thing bug me, but it did.

It really was a terrific trade. I’m not sure how Alex pulled it off. I can’t imagine we would have had the two playoff seasons without Josh. He was a lot fun to watch. It is too bad his time with the Jays ended the way it did.

14 Years Ago

The Blue Jays signed B.J. Ryan to a 5 year, $47 million contract. For the $47 million we got one very good season (2006: 38 saves, 1.37 ERA), one season cut short by injury (2007), one good season (2008: 32 saves, 2.95), one awful season (2009: 2 saves, 6.53) and one season sitting at home (2010). And that was the end of his MLB career.

In total, he had a 2.95 ERA, in 155 games with 75 saves for the Blue Jays $47 million. In 155.1 innings, he allowed 117 hits, 69 walks and had 160 strikeouts. When he could play, he was good, but he didn’t play enough.

The Jays were kind of going for it in build up for the 2006 season. We added Bengie Molina, Lyle Overbay, Troy Glaus and A.J. Burnett, adding a fair bit to our payroll. It sort of worked, we went from 80-82, in 2005, to 87-75, in 2006. But we still finished 10 games back from the Yankees, which in the pre-Wild Card days, second place wasn’t good enough.

I’d love to link to the Bluebird Banter story from the day of the trade but BBB didn’t wouldn’t open up shop for another week or so. But when it did, Richard Wade wrote:

Turning to Ryan’s deal, I have a hard time getting past the decision to give a five year deal to a reliever. To avoid getting overly negative, we’ll focus purely on what Ryan provides on the field rather than what he costs off of it.

So you could say he wasn’t thrilled.

At Batter’s Box ‘Pistol’ wrote:

Given that Ryan has no real injury history and has had a relatively light workload over his career (381 innings) I don’t think the risk involved with a 5 year contract is as worrisome as it might appear at first.

Well, the unfortunate thing is, when you sign a pitcher to a 5-year contract, when he is on the wrong side of 30, injury history or not, bad things are likely to happen.

As it turned out, it was way too much money for a relief pitcher. JP really should have known better. It is easy to say with hindsight, but long term contracts for relievers rarely work out. The Ryan contract wasn’t the death of the huge contracts for aging closers, but it certainly became a cautionary tale.