Josh Donaldson Rumors

Arbitration Roundup: 54 Players Exchange Figures

With today’s flurry of activities in the books, 144 players have agreed to deals to avoid arbitration for a total spend of $433MM. But that leaves 54 players who have exchanged figures and have ground left to cover before their 2015 salaries are settled. That number is up from last year’s tally of 39, and may point to the possibility that we will see more hearings than the three in 2014 (which was itself up from zero the year before).

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is a great resource for seeing where things stand. It is fully sortable and even allows you to link to the results of a search. (The MLBTR/Matt Swartz arbitration projections are also quite handy, of course.) Using the tracker, I compiled some broad notes on where things stand in the arbitration process this year.

Remember, deals avoiding arbitration can still be reached even after the exchange of numbers. Hearings will be scheduled between February 1st and 21st, so there is plenty of time for the sides to come together before making their cases.

That being said, some teams are known for their “file and trial” approach to arb-eligible players, meaning that they refuse to negotiate after the exchange deadline and go to a hearing if agreement has not been reached. Among those clubs (the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox, per the most recent reporting), there are several open cases remaining: Mat Latos and Michael Dunn (Marlins), Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Braves), and Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (Reds).

Meanwhile, some other clubs have historically employed the “file and trial” approach on a modified or case-by-case basis: the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians. Among those clubs, the Pirates (Neil Walker, Vance Worley) and Nationals (Jerry Blevins) have open cases, though all of them feature relatively tight spreads.

And there are some other interesting cases to keep an eye on as well. Consider:

  • The Orioles and Royals not only faced off in last year’s American League Championship Series, but find themselves staring at by far the most unresolved cases (six and eight, respectively). They are also the only teams with eight-figure gaps between their submissions and those of their players ($10.85MM and $10MM, respectively).
  • Among the Orioles players, two stand out for the significant relative gulf separating team and player. Zach Britton, who excelled after taking over as the closer last year, filed at $4.2MM while the team countered at $2.2MM, leaving a $2MM gap that is worth nearly 91% of the club’s offer. Even more remarkably, the O’s will need to bridge a $3.4MM gap ($5.4MM versus $2MM) with surprise star Steve Pearce. That spread is 1.7 times the value of the team’s offer and easily beats the largest difference last year (Logan Morrison and the Mariners, 127.3%).
  • Of course, it is worth remembering that first-year arb salaries have added impact because they set a baseline for future earnings. (Each successive year’s salary is essentially calculated as an earned raise from that starting point.) For the Reds, the outcome of their cases with Frazier ($5.7MM vs. $3.9MM) and Mesoraco ($3.6MM vs. $2.45MM) could have huge ramifications for whether the team will be able to afford to keep (and possibly extend) that pair of strong performers.
  • Likewise, the Angels face an important showdown with Garrett Richards, a Super Two whose starting point will factor into three more seasons of payouts. As a high-upside starter, he has sky high earning potential, so any savings will be most welcome to the team. The current spread is $3.8MM versus $2.4MM, a $1.4MM difference that equates to 58.3% of the team’s filing price.
  • Interestingly, the biggest gap in absolute terms belong to Pearce and the Orioles at $3.4MM. After that come Bud Norris and the Orioles ($2.75MM), David Freese and the Angels ($2.35MM), Greg Holland and the Royals ($2.35MM), Dexter Fowler and the Astros ($2.3MM), Eric Hosmer and the Royals ($2.1MM), and Aroldis Chapman and the Reds ($2.05MM).

Of course, plenty of deals already got done today. Here are some of the more notable among them:

  • David Price agreed to a $19.75MM salary with the Tigers that stands as the single highest arbitration payday ever, by a fair margin.
  • Interestingly, the Rays agreed to rather similar, sub-projection deals with all seven of their arb-eligible players. Discounts on Swartz’s expectations ranged from 3.23% to 13.21%. In total, the club shaved $1.525MM off of its tab.
  • The opposite was true of the Tigers, who spent a total of $1.4MM over the projections on just three players. Of course, since one of those players was Price, the commitment landed just 5.2% over the projected total.
  • Detroit’s overages pale in comparison to those of the Cubs, who handed out several of the deals that beat the projections by the widest relative margin and ended up over $2.5MM (14.5%) over their projected spend.
  • The MLBTR/Swartz model badly whiffed (over 50% off) on just three players, all of whom earned well over the projections: Chris Coghlan of the Cubs (78.9%), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (66.9%) Tony Sipp of the Astros (60%).
  • On the low side, the worst miss (or the biggest discount, depending on one’s perspective) was Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who fell $2.2MM and 28.9% shy of his projected earnings. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Chris Tillman (Orioles) were the only two other players to fall 20% or more below their projections. Of course, in the cases of both Melancon and Tillman, Swartz accurately predicted that they would fall short of the model.

Arbitration Filing Numbers

Many players will avoid arbitration today, and dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won’t go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox (per the most recent updates) are known for their “file and trial” policies. For players on those teams this marks the last chance at negotiations before a hearing.

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $5MM or more. Projections can be found here. Now for the details …

  • The Reds countered the $5.7MM filing of Todd Frazier with a $3.9MM figure, according to Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (via Twitter).
  • Third baseman David Freese filed at $7.6MM and the Angels countered at $5.25MM, WAPT’s Mike Perchick tweets. Halos outfielder Matt Joyce has filed for $5.2MM against a $4.2MM counter, according to Perchick (on Twitter).
  • Astros center fielder Dexter Fowler filed for $10.8MM while the club countered at $8.5MM, Perchick tweeets.
  • Pirates second baseman Neil Walker filed at $9MM while the club landed at $8MM, Perchick tweets.
  • Just-acquired reliever Tyler Clippard has filed for $8.85MM against the Athletics, who countered at $7.775MM, Perchick tweets.
  • Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay filed at $5MM while the team countered at $4.1MM, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets.
  • Pedro Alvarez has requested a $5.75MM salary for the coming season while the Pirates are at $5.25MM, per a tweet from Perchick.
  • Righty Mat Latos filed at $10.4MM and the Marlins countered with a $9.4MM figure, per Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
  • Third baseman Casey McGehee filed at $5.4MM, with the Giants countering at $4MM, Heyman tweets.
  • The Braves countered Mike Minor‘s $5.6MM filing number with a $5.1MM team figure, Heyman reports on Twitter.
  • Mark Trumbo has filed for $6.9MM against a $5.3MM counter from the Diamondbacks, Heyman tweets. Closer Addison Reed, meanwhile, filed at $5.6MM with the team countering at $4.7MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
  • The Orioles went with a $7.5MM price point for righty Bud Norris, who filed at $10.25MM, per Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). In both relative and absolute terms, there is an even bigger gap between the O’s ($2MM) and breakout slugger Steve Pearce ($5.4MM), who is looking to cash in on a big season in his final year of eligibility. That news also comes via Connolly, on Twitter.
  • Entering his final year of arbitration, infielder Daniel Murphy has filed for $8.6MM while the Mets have submitted a $7.4MM figure, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets.
  • Reds 9th inning man Aroldis Chapman filed for $8.7MM while the team countered at $6.65MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
  • The Orioles and outfielder Alejandro De Aza will negotiate between filing figures of $5MM and $5.65MM, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets.
  • Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer filed at $6.7MM and the team countered at $4.6MM, Heyman tweets. The club will also have some ground to make up with closer Greg Holland, who filed at $9MM versus a team filing of $6.65MM, per another Heyman tweet.
  • Newly-acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson has filed at $5.75MM, while the Blue Jays countered at $4.3MM, Heyman tweets.

Quick Hits: Average Salary, Scherzer, Donaldson

Christmas Eve is generally a pretty quiet time for transactions, though Erin Hinch might disagree.  The wife of Astros manager A.J. Hinch related an anecdote to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about how her husband (at the time working in the Diamondbacks front office) took time out of a Christmas Eve church service in 2005 to get Eric Byrnes to agree to a contract with the D’Backs.

We at MLBTR wish all of our readers a very happy holidays, and here are a few more news items as stocking stuffers…

  • According to figures from the MLB Players Association, the average salary for a 2014 Major League player was just under $3.819MM, Ronald Blum of the Associated Press reports.  This represents a 12.78% jump from the 2013 average salary, an increase that Blum attributes to growing revenues from national and local TV deals.  The Commissioner’s Office, which uses slightly different calculation methods, said the average salary was just over $3.726MM.
  • It’s still difficult to predict where Max Scherzer will pitch in 2015 given the right-hander’s salary demands and the seeming lack of obvious suitors, The New York Post’s Ken Davidoff writes.  Two American League officials give their predictions about Scherzer’s landing spot, with one official picking the Angels while the other thinks the Nationals will sign Scherzer and trade Jordan Zimmermann.  Davidoff’s own “best guesses” include the Tigers, Cardinals or Cubs.
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and president Paul Beeston talk to Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi about how the team’s blockbuster acquisition of Josh Donaldson from the A’s evolved from discussion to reality.
  • While the Twins have made several roster upgrades this winter, they have yet to address their team defense, Fangraphs’ Mike Petriello notes.  Minnesota was ranked by several metrics as one of the league’s worst defensive teams in 2014, finishing near the bottom of the list in such categories as Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150.
  • The Rangers are bound to improve on their dismal 2014 record simply by avoiding the incredible number of injuries that plagued the team, yet Fangraphs’ Drew Fairservice (writing for FOX Sports) notes that even a healthier group of Rangers doesn’t project to be a winning team.  Given the young talent in the farm system, Fairservice opines that Texas might be better served by using 2015 as an evaluation year to answer some roster questions and then aim to return to contention in 2016.
  • With the Rays seemingly entering a rebuild phase, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi speculates that Ben Zobrist will draw a lot of trade buzz before Opening Day.  Zobrist’s ability to play several positions means that there would be no shortage of suitors if the Rays indeed made him available; Morosi lists eleven teams that could fit as trade partners.


AL Central Notes: Plouffe, Donaldson, Hahn

Veteran reporter Dick Kaegel is retiring after over 50 years covering Major League Baseball.  Mike Bauman penned a nice tribute to his MLB.com colleague, chronicling Kaegel’s long career with such outlets as MLB.com (as the Royals beat writer since 2004), the Kansas City Star, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Sporting News, to name a few.  Kaegel’s work is very familiar to long-time MLB Trade Rumors readers, and we at MLBTR wish Kaegel all the best in his retirement.

Here’s some news from around the AL Central…

  • The Twins had yet to discuss a multiyear contract with Trevor Plouffe up to Tuesday’s tender deadline, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.  Plouffe is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and is projected to receive a $4.3MM salary in 2015 by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.  Since Plouffe is a Super Two player with two more arb years left beyond this one, it makes sense that the Twins will eventually explore obtaining some cost certainty, though it might not be this winter given that Plouffe fractured his forearm in September.
  • The Indians were one of several teams who asked the Athletics about Josh Donaldson, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.  The A’s said Donaldson wasn’t available, though that obviously ended up not being the case as the third baseman was dealt to the Blue Jays.  Pluto wonders if the Tribe could’ve topped Toronto’s trade package had Donaldson been more openly shopped, or if A’s GM Billy Beane specifically liked what the Jays had to offer.
  • Primarily, we are addressing things for the long term,White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin) in advance of the Winter Meetings.  That said, the Sox made a very notable short-term move in signing veteran Adam LaRoche to a two-year deal, and “if the right situation arises on a short-term basis…we would make that move,” Hahn said.  “We are certainly open to short-term fits that make us better in 2015. We have to take it on a case-by-case basis in terms of players who aren’t necessarily going to be under control for the same three-, four- or five-year window we’ve been focused on for the last year and a half.”

AL Notes: Donaldson, Moss, Markakis, Tigers, Twins, Smoak

Athletics GM Billy Beane firmly rejected the recently-suggested idea that some kind of tension between he and Josh Donaldson played any role in the latter’s recent trade, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. “It is so absurd to respond further is to give it credibility,” said Beane. We’ll take a closer look at Oakland on today’s podcast, which features beat reporter Jane Lee of MLB.com.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • The Athletics are “going to trade Brandon Moss,” an executive told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark last night (Twitter link). We heard yesterday that the Indians were making a run at the slugger, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the pursuit continues today. Of course, as Lee reported last night (via Twitter), there are other teams looking into Moss.
  • Lingering concerns over neck issues may have played a role in the Orioles‘ decision not to top the Braves’ offer to Nick Markakis, Rosenthal reports. Markakis has been quite durable over the last two seasons since being diagnosed with a “small disc herniation,” but of course he has also failed to deliver much pop in that time.
  • Nevertheless, the Orioles did have the second-highest offer on the table to Markakis, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (Twitter link). He hears that Baltimore offered four years and $40MM.
  • The Tigers are receiving strong interest in David Price and Rick Porcello, Rosenthal reports (links to Twitter). What Detroit would ask for in return for these starters remains a mystery, Rosenthal adds. Of course, there are several other big-name, 5+ service time pitchers who could potentially be had, and Rosenthal notes that all are still “in play.” He adds that the primary appeal of such arms is their generally below-market salary and the achievement of a year of exclusive negotiating rights. Implicit, of course, is that teams are interested not only in a reasonable hope of achieving excess value on the contract, but also in doing so without exposure to the massive downside risk of a longer-term deal.
  • The Twins will turn their attention to the pitching staff during the Winter Meetings, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. When asked what the team’s priority is, GM Terry Ryan left little doubt how he feels: “Pitching is, and I don’t think there’s any question. We’ve had our struggles on the mound, so we’ll continue to look at pitching first.”
  • Justin Smoak left money on the table to join the Blue Jays, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. Agent Dustin Bledsoe told Nicholson-Smith that his client wanted the chance at everyday playing time at first more than the possibility of increasing his guarantee next year.

Quick Hits: A’s, Rockies, Morales, Albers

With the Winter Meetings just a week away, MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince names the top ten Hot Stove storylines heading into December. How the top-tier starting pitcher market shakes out heads the list, according to Castrovince, who notes the trade market for the likes of Cole Hamels, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija will heat up once free agents Jon Lester and Max Scherzer sign. Among Castrovince’s other top headlines this month are whether the Braves trade Justin Upton and how the Red Sox and Dodgers deal with their surplus of outfielders.

Elsewhere in baseball on the final day of November:

  • After A’s GM Billy Beane signed Billy Butler to a $30MM deal and traded third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com isn’t sure what the plan is in Oakland.
  • The best way for the Rockies to become contenders is for Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki to be healthy and productive, but it would be daring for GM Jeff Bridich to trade the duo in search of salary relief to address areas of concern, opines MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby.
  • The market for Kendrys Morales has been quiet to date with only the Indians being linked to the free agent DH. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman tweets, besides Cleveland, the Rangers and Royals are also taking a look at Morales while the Mariners and Blue Jays are possibilities, as well.
  • Left-handed starter Andrew Albers recently became a free agent and has drawn interest from a number of big league clubs, an industry source told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Albers became a free agent when South Korea’s Hanwha Eagles declined the 2015 option on his one-year deal. The Canadian pitched to a 5.84 ERA in 146 1/3 innings, though he did make 27 starts and led his team with 102 strikeouts. BN-S writes Albers appears to be seeking a split contract with incentives.

AL Notes: Samardzija, Donaldson

Here’s the latest from the AL as we continue to digest turkey and the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.

  • Earlier today, we learned the White Sox and A’s were discussing a trade for Jeff Samardzija. Shortstop Alexei Ramirez may be the A’s prime target, but they also like infield prospect Tim Anderson and utility fielder Marcus Semien, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Some view Anderson, 22 next season, as the second best prospect in Chicago’s system after pitcher Carlos Rodon. Semien, 24, has looked overmatched in 326 major league plate appearances, but he’s featured reliable power, speed, and position flexibility at the Triple-A level. It’s worth wondering if the Sox would deal a top prospect like Anderson for just one season of Samardzija – especially with an apparent buyers market for pitchers.
  • Donaldson credits part of his 2012 offensive breakout to studying the swing of new teammate Jose Bautista, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. According to Donaldson, he’s watched “thousands of hours” worth of Bautista swings (that’s at least 83 days of swing analysis if you want to take the hyperbole at face value).
  • The Blue Jays may feel good about their recent moves, but they won’t boast, reports Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. The club hasn’t reached the postseason since winning the World Series in 1993 – the longest such drought in baseball. While they have to feel good about the core of the lineup, there are plenty of holes on the roster. Second base, left field, and late innings relief are the most pressing areas, although the rotation and center field are notably thin too.

Reactions To The Josh Donaldson Trade

The Athletics’ trade of third baseman Josh Donaldson to the Blue Jays last night came as a surprise, but A’s GM Billy Beane explains he felt he had to move forward, via MLB.com’s Jane Lee on Twitter. “[W]e had to take a look at where we are and where we’re headed,” says Beane. “[W]e were 11 games behind the Angels last season, and it took the last day to hold off the Mariners, and given the losses that we have … we didn’t think it was possible to add to the current group to make up an 11-game difference.” Beane goes on to say that he was trying to position the team to be in the process of improving, rather than deteriorating. Here are more notes on last night’s deal.

  • The trade was a win for the Jays, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider-only). The deal netted Toronto “one of the best players in baseball for a package of prospects that doesn’t quite add up.” In particular, Law feels it’s a future-oriented deal for the A’s, but the two pitchers involved (Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman) are only back-end starter types, and even though the A’s have a good record getting value out of such players, it will be hard Nolin, Graveman, Brett Lawrie and Franklin Barreto to produce enough value to compensate for four years of control of a great player. Also, Law suggests the Athletics’ motivations here aren’t yet clear in light of their recent signing of Billy Butler, which was a “win-now move.”
  • The Blue Jays’ side of the trade suggests Toronto believes that it can win with offense in an era dominated by pitching, Drew Fairservice of Fangraphs writes. So far this offseason, the Jays have added Donaldson and Russell Martin to an offense that already featured Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
  • The Athletics’ motivations for this deal aren’t yet completely clear, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs writes. Lawrie’s upside and youth could be the key to the deal from their perspective, but he has to stay healthy. One possibility could be that the A’s could move Lawrie to second base and pursue Chase Headley, who could turn out to be a bargain free agent. Cameron suggests that this trade might make more sense once we see what other moves the A’s make this offseason.
  • Speaking of which, the Athletics have “at least one more significant trade brewing,” FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. That move could involve Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick or John Jasoa report last week indicated that the A’s were shopping those players, and that their acquisition of Ike Davis could be seen as an insurance policy in case they traded one.
  • The Athletics’ decision to trade Donaldson was a characteristic one, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes. The A’s acquired Donaldson in 2008 when they sent Rich Harden to the Cubs, and Donaldson only emerged years later as one of the game’s top third basemen. Now they’re acquiring four players in shipping Donaldson to Toronto, perhaps hoping one of Barreto, Nolin or Graveman blossoms years from now, just like Donaldson did. Passan writes that the deal makes sense from Toronto’s perspective, but the Jays still need help at left field, DH, second base and closer.

Blue Jays Acquire Josh Donaldson From Athletics For Brett Lawrie, Three Others

The Blue Jays have officially struck a deal to acquire third baseman Josh Donaldson from the Athletics. Heading back to Oakland are infielder Brett Lawrie, righty Kendall Graveman, shortstop Franklin Barreto, and lefty Sean Nolin.

This deal’s franchise-changing implications are evident on its face. Donaldson, 28, and Lawrie, 24, have each been viewed as cornerstone third basemen for their respective clubs.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Toronto Blue Jays

Donaldson is, of course, the best piece moving in this swap and one of the more valuable commodities in all of baseball. A late bloomer, he had emerged as one of the game’s very best position players over the last two seasons. Collectively, he has slashed .277/.363/.477 with 53 home runs and 13 stolen bases over 1,262 plate appearances since the start of 2013. With stellar defense included, Donaldson has racked up 15.4 rWAR and 14.1 fWAR in that span.

Projected by Matt Swartz/MLBTR to earn $4.5MM in his Super Two season of arbitration eligibility, Donaldson was just starting off on a track to become rather pricey. But he comes with four seasons of control, and will unquestionably be paid less than his anticipated worth on the diamond.

Though significantly younger, Lawrie comes with one less year of control. He is, however, projected to take home just $1.8MM this season and will therefore also have a much lower starting point for his next two seasons of earnings. That element of the deal should not be ignored, as Lawrie will almost certainly be significantly cheaper than Donaldson over the next three campaigns.

On the other hand, he has yet to match Donaldson’s output in spite of his own, oft-noted ability. Over his first three-plus seasons in the bigs, Lawrie owns a .265/.323/.426 slash (good for a 104 OPS+) and has generally drawn solid-to-outstanding reviews on his defensive work. Injuries have limited his time on the field over each of the last two seasons, but Lawrie has generally performed at a well-above-average clip when healthy.

The other pieces involved are, of course, responsible for making up the gap in value between Donaldson and Lawrie. Barreto could be the hidden gem in the package, with Ben Badler of Baseball America noting on Twitter that the 18-year-old was the top July 2 prospect of two years prior and is probably at top-100 level prospect at this point. He came into the year as Toronto’s fifth-rated prospect, per Baseball America, and his .865 OPS with six home runs and 29 steals in just 328 low A plate appearances did nothing but improve upon that standing. Per BA, Barreto has several plus tools (hit, speed, arm) with decent power projection and room to improve on his footwork at the shortstop position.

Meanwhile, the 24-year-old Nolin, a lefty, placed tenth on that BA listing. He has been deemed ready enough to warrant one MLB appearance in each of the last two seasons, though he has spent most of his time in the upper minors. In 105 Triple-A innings thus far, Nolin has posted a 3.17 ERA with 7.5 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9. BA credits him with a “true four-pitch mix” and calls him a fairly polished number four starter type.

Graveman, 23, sprinted through the Blue Jays’ system after going in the eighth round of the 2013 draft. He threw 172 innings across five levels of the organization the the last year alone, largely dominating at every level of the minors as a starter before earning a chance to make a handful of big league relief appearances. In total, he made 27 minor league starts, just seven of which came above the High-A level, carrying a cumulative 1.83 ERA with 6.2 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9.

It would not be surprising at all to see other moves in the works for both clubs after this swap. The Jays have clearly signaled their intention to challenge for the AL East crown, and remain in the market for outfield and bullpen help.

Oakland, meanwhile, is in the midst of something of a general roster churn, but is probably not merely looking to the future after promising $30MM to Billy Butler. With the team’s most recent rotation additions, it is possible to imagine the team dangling one of its expiring contracts (Jeff Samardzija, Scott Kazmir) as it looks to fill out its largely open middle infield mix. Lawrie, of course, has spent some time at second in his career and creates some flexibility in that regard.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported the deal (Twitter links), with Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeting Nolin’s inclusion. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier in the evening that a significant trade was in the works.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Athletics Will Not Trade Donaldson, Willing To Listen On Pitchers

The Athletics do not intend to deal away star third baseman Josh Donaldson despite speculation that he could be made available, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. That confirms what Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported (via Twitter) the day after the club’s season ended. However, the team will be willing to listen to trade interest in pitchers such as Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir, according to Rosenthal.

Donaldson has emerged as one of the best third basemen and most valuable players in the game. While he is undoubtedly a bargain as a Super Two player with four more years of control, he will not be cheap. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects that Donaldson will land $4.5MM this year, and that number will only continue to rise.

Donaldson’s rising cost led to suggestions that Oakland may consider dealing him. But while he would undoubtedly bring back a huge return, his departure would leave a gaping hole in any plans of near-term contention. As Rosenthal notes, A’s GM Billy Beane believes the team is still primed to reach the postseason next year.

As for Oakland’s staff, deals involving pitchers on expiring contracts are obviously more palatable, though Rosenthal hastens to add that the A’s are not shopping anyone and mentions that a trade deadline deal (if the team falls out of contention) could be the likelier outcome. Both Samardzija (projected $9.5MM arb salary) and Kazmir ($11MM salary with an additional $2MM luxury tax hit for his signing bonus) are cheap for their recent results, and the former in particular would be a popular trade target. In fact, MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained in his recent outlook for the A’s offseason that a deal involving Samardzija or Kazmir could make a good bit of sense.