Boston Red Sox trade target: Josh Donaldson
The Red Sox largely patched their offensive holes through moves at this year’s trade deadline, acquiring Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig, and with the 7 year/$72M signing of Rusney Castillo. However, they still have a large gap at third base, a position currently occupied by some combination of Will Middlebrooks, Brock Holt, and Garin Cecchini, none of whom can be trusted as a starting caliber third baseman on a contending team. Considering that, many have named the Red Sox as major contenders for the services of free agents such as Pablo Sandoval or Chase Headley. However, the best option for the Red Sox will potentially be on the trade market, and his name is Josh Donaldson.
In a recent report, ESPN’s Buster Olney mentioned that he expected the A’s to pursue a trade of Donaldson this offseason. Donaldson will enter arbitration this offseason and, as a young, power-hitting third baseman, his contract will likely rise considerably in the coming seasons so the frugal Athletics may seek to trade him for young talent.
Donaldson broke out last season with a huge year as the A’s starting third baseman, slashing .301/.384/.499 with 24 home runs and 93 RBIs in 158 games and he backed it up with a solid 2014 season, which saw him hit .255/.342/.456 with 29 home runs and 98 RBIs. While his batting average slipped a bit in 2014, that can be attributed to a decline in BABIP, a mark which fell from .333 in 2013 to .278 in 2014. Going forward, Donaldson’s average will likely be somewhere in between 2013 and 2014’s marks, but that doesn’t stop him from being one of the best all-around third basemen in the game.
See, despite that downturn in average this season, Donaldson still recorded an elite 6.4 WAR due to his phenomenal defense at the hot corner and he had 7.7 WAR the year before. That places Donaldson as the second-best third baseman in baseball this season, just 0.2 wins behind Nationals’ breakout star Anthony Rendon.
Plus, while Donaldson has been excellent in Oakland, the Red Sox could expect him to be even better with the Red Sox. Like Yoenis Cespedes, who the Red Sox acquired from the A’s this July, Donaldson is a right-handed power threat, a skill set which translates much better to Fenway Park than it does to the O.co Coliseum.
That being said, Donaldson would cost a pretty penny in terms of prospects from the Red Sox. With the A’s pitching staff in its current state, they won’t be asking for much in the way of pitching prospects, which is a shame considering the Red Sox’ wealth in that area. The A’s will probably be more interested in one of the Red Sox elite hitting prospects, namely Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart.
The Red Sox will likely be reluctant to part with either of those players, as they very well should be. However, if they are unable to acquire either Sandoval or Headley on a reasonable contract, then that might be what they have to do. Regardless of whether or not the Red Sox pull the trigger on Donaldson this offseason, expect them to be heavily involved in his potential sweepstakes.