* New Blue Jays 3B Josh Donaldson re-make his swing along the lines of slugging RF Jose Bautista. The Jays acquired Donaldson — second best all-around numbers to Mike Trout for Brett Lawrie (Langley, BC), LHP Sean Nolin, RHP Kendall Graveman and INF Franklin Barreto.
By Bob Elliott
The Boston Red Sox signed free agent third basemanPablo Sandovalto a five-year, $98 million US deal.
The Seattle Mariners and third baseman Kyle Seager have agreed on a seven-year, $100 million extension.
And now the Blue Jays will pay third baseman Josh Donaldson, acquired Friday night from the Oakland A’s, roughly $5 million in salary arbitration for 2015 … and he’s not going anywhere for three years after that.
While the cost in cash pales in comparison to what the Red Sox and M’s will play the Sandoval and Seager, Donaldson cost the Jays paid dearly in players: third baseman Brett Lawrie, lefty Sean Nolin and right-hander Kendal Graveman plus blue-chip prospect Franklin Barreto.
Lawrie arrived Aug. 5, 2011 and of the next 537 games he was here made 311 starts (57.9%) due to injuries.
Donaldson started 301 of 324 games (92.9%) in 2013-14.
Nolin and Graveman — knee-buckling cutter courtesy of Jays minor-league pitching instructor Rick Langford — will likely be in the A’s rotation this season, especially if Jeff Samardzija is dealt to the Chicago White Sox or the Atlanta Braves. The pair was not supposed to be in the Jays opening day rotation, but they would have been asked to contribute down the road.
Barreto was given a $1.45 million bonus by the Jays new Latin American scout Ismael Cruz in 2012.
So, you are picking up sides for your team.
You need a third baseman.
Who would you rather have?
Or Donaldson, whose all-round numbers at the plate and in the field were behind one man — Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Seems like general manager Alex Anthopoulos is riding a hot streak.
First Russell Martin.
And now Donaldson.
Martin has been credited for helping end the Pittsburgh Pirates 21-year, post-season drought, while Donaldson was a presence in the A’s clubhouse and dugout. That leader tagged was hung on Donaldson too. He’s a guy teams in the other dugout dislike. He can strut. He’s durable. He can back it up.
So how come instead of George Strait song we hear a classic by The Who rolling around our noggin?
Remember “We Won’t Get Fooled Again” by The Who?
The Jays were all-in winning November of 2012 making a 12-player deal with the Miami Marlins adding former batting champ Jose Reyes, one-time ERA champ Josh Johnson, 200-innings man Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck.
And then, the season began … the Jays had five losing months out of six … finishing with 74 wins, dead last in the American League East ,,, 23 games back.
Donaldson and Martin join a team that won 83 games in 2014 … finishing third … 13 games back, after spending 61 days in first place.
Yes, but Your Toronto Blue Jays still have holes you say.
They still need an every day left fielder, a closer, the bullpen has to be reconstructed and maybe a second baseman,
Donaldson is a self-made man. Promoted April 30, 2010 and he pinch hit for the A’s late in a 10-2 loss to Brandon Morrow at the Roger Centre.
Facing Jason Frasor he struck out looking in his major-league debut. The next night he caught and hit a two-run homer off Dana Eveland in a 5-4 win over the Jays. He hit .154 with one homer and three games in 10 games and was demoted to triple-A Sacramento.
Still he played behind Brandon Inge. Inge made 74 starts at third before a groin injury in August and Donaldson 71.
This season Donaldson batted .255 with 29 homers, 98 RBIs and a .798 OPS placing eight in MVP voting behind Trout, Victor Martinez, Michael Brantley, Jose Abreu, Robinson Cano, Jose Bautista and Nelson Cruz. He was a finalist for the gold glove along with Adrian Beltre and Seager, this year’s winner.
So, one Alabama player enters — Donaldson is from Mobile — while another, Colby Rasmus of Phenix City, leaves.
“They’re trying to win right now, 100%, I can say it,” Donaldson told reporters. “They’re also trying to prepare themselves for the future. Russell Martin has a long-term deal … they have a young nucleus of pitchers who are very talented and very good.
“The elements are there to win, about going out there playing the game and at the end of the day, getting a W.”
A’s GM Billy Beane and Anthopoulos spoke at the general manager’s meetings in Phoenix. Beane said no.
They spoke again. Beane said no.
Anthopoulos kept asking.
Beane kept saying no.
“He did say he had to have someone back to play third,” Anthopoulos said.
Lawrie was in the deal.
If Year 5 was the deal breaker for Martin, the name included that made the Donaldson deal happen was Nolin, once Lawrie was included.
“This was a little bit ahead of schedule, as far as me being traded,” Donaldson said. “You start moving past that and looking at the capability of this lineup, the potential that it brings. There’s probably not going to be a lineup as potent in baseball.”
And Donaldson’s leg kick and forceful swing are similar to Bautista’s for a reason.
Donaldson estimated he probably watched over 1,000 hours of Bautista and tried to model his swing after the two-time home run champ.
The two talked at Target Field in Minneapolis in July during the all-star game. Donaldson told Bautista how watching the Jays right fielder’s swing had helped him: “I let him know I studied a lot of his work and appreciated what he accomplished up to this point in his career.”
Donaldson saw the Jays up close twice this season with a clear-cut winner each time.
“We saw the Toronto Blue Jays play at their best at that time, we walked away knowing that that was a really good ball team,” Donaldson said
The Jays went to the coast in July and were swept in a four-game series losing 4-1, 1-0 in 11 innings, 5-1, and 4-2 to Sonny Gray, Dan Otero, Scott Kazmir and Samardzija. Edwin Encarnacion injured a quad running to first in the third loss and missed 34 games
“When they came to Oakland, Edwin Encarcion, ended up getting hurt,” Donaldson said. “You could definitely tell when he was out of that lineup there was a missing link, but at the same time, they were still very competitive.”
Anthopolous and Donaldson spoke Friday as medical information was exchanged on all five players. His new GM was impressed with his durability and his winning attitude, according to Donaldson.
“He liked the fact that I have some power, my strikeout-to-walk rate is pretty good,” said Donaldson, who had 76 walks and 130 strikeouts.
“He liked that I played 158 games the last two seasons, but I think the sixth tool is that ever since I was five years old my teams have won. I’m not saying necessarily that’s me that’s causing that but there’s a mentality about winning …
“This team is going to be so talented and it will be interesting to see what happens. I think it’s going to be a fun year.”
Besides The Who’s ‘We Won’t Get Fooled Again’ lyrics, I also had a flashback to the GMs meetings in Phoenix.
We asked an opposing GM what Anthopoulos was up to in reference to who he would hire as the new hitting coach?
“I’m not sure, but he’s trying to do something big,” said the GM.
Martin was big.
Ditto for Donaldson.
Is the GM done?
Now, there are more boxes to check, more holes to fill before opening day.
But as start to an off season go … not bad.
Have they won November?
November wins don’t count.