So there are some interesting things going on in baseball tonight. While those things don't directly involve the Rangers, it's interesting nonetheless, and the ripple effects may very well end up reflecting in the AL West standings in 2015 (and possibly beyond).
According to Susan Slusser, Ken Rosenthal, Jeff Passan, and others, Josh Donaldson has been traded from Oakland to Toronto in exchange for Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin, and Franklin Barreto. According to Passan, it's a done deal.
Donaldson has been among the more valuable 3rd basemen in the game over the past two seasons, generating 14.1 fWAR in 2013 and 2014 combined. For my money, he should have been the Gold Glove winner at 3rd base in the American League, and was arguably the most valuable player on Oakland's ball club. Furthermore, he's been a perfect example of how misleading batting "average" can be, as he put up .255 in 2014, yet had a wRC+ of 129, good for 4th in all of baseball on the season. Combined with his skill with his glove, Donaldson would definitely be in any conversation about the most valuable players at his position, a discussion that would also have to include Adrian Beltre.
For Toronto, the deal makes it clear that they intend to contend in 2015. After signing Russell Martin, the direction was fairly clear, but in acquiring Donaldson, they figure to have a very potent offense with a decent amount of pop in it.
For Oakland, however, the deal makes much less sense to me on the surface. Donaldson isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season, so with four more years of club control, trading him would seem to indicate that Oakland is in full rebuilding mode. That was my initial thought, and while I tried to somewhat temper myself from knee-jerking, I'm definitely not the only one. Joe Sheehan and Susan Slusser offered up some thoughts of their own on Twitter.
Sheehan, of course, is a very well-respected writer, and as Eric has noted many times, his progressive-thinking approach to the game has made his opinions worth reading. Slusser, an A's beat writer, of course providing more damning comments, as it would appear that Oakland's players view the situation the same why I did initially.
Rebuilding isn't something new to Oakland, of course. There's a reason Moneyball gained fame in the mainstream, and so there's reason to believe that much of this is money-driven like it has been in the past. Then you've got the stadium situation that has apparently stalled revenues a bit as the A's have been unable to get a move approved to the San Jose area. Either way, their ball club spent most of last season on top of the world prior to a late-season slump, and while trading Yoenis Cespedes for Jon Lester seemed to indicate they were going all-in for 2014, I didn't ever get the feeling they'd scrap the whole thing in the offseason.
After signing Billy Butler, I figured the A's would simply retool a bit and give it another run in 2015. Now, well, I don't know what to think. While it's clear that they're a ball club now in rebuilding mode, I don't have a good inkling as to why that may be, but I suspect others smarter than myself will offer their thoughts in the coming days.
For Texas fans, beyond the simple feeling of relief at not having to face Donaldson as often, it should also be noted that this should further solidify that the Rangers aren't in rebuilding mode after a disastrous season in 2014. If that were the case, these are the type of moves you'd expect to see, and thus far, we haven't seen any indication of that. In fact, there's every indication that ownership and the front office are looking for ways to improve and solidify the roster. So if you take nothing else from this, at least take note of two organizations that are currently on two different tracks, and be glad that your team isn't the one trading players like Adrian Beltre.