One more thing on the Donaldson trade

Over the weekend, a rival American League executive pointed out something that I did not fully consider in my initial assessment of the Josh Donaldson trade.

The Athletics cannot simply be judged on the players they acquired for Donaldson – third baseman Brett Lawrie, right-hander Kendall Graveman, left-hander Sean Nolin and shortstop Franklin Barreto.

No, the exec said, the amount of money that the Athletics save by shedding Donaldson’s four years of arbitration – and how they reallocate it – will help determine the verdict on this deal.

How much money are we talking about?

Well, Donaldson projects to earn $4.5 million in his first year of arbitration, according to Matt Swartz of MLBTradeRumors.com. His salaries after that, assuming normal health and production, could be $7.5 million, $11 million and $16 million, a rival agent said. And those numbers actually might be conservative.

So, the savings for the Athletics figure to be in at least the $40 million range. Lawrie, who projects to earn about $1.8 million in the first of his three arbitration years, will account for some of that. But the other three players from the Blue Jays will be minimum-salary types for three years once they reach the majors.

The deal, then, was not simply a 4-for-1. From the Athletics’ perspective, it could be a 6-for-1, 7-for-1 or even bigger by the time they finish redistributing Donaldson’s money.

“In four years, Donaldson would have eaten a huge piece of their payroll,” the exec said. “This way, the A’s gather more pitching that they can package or use as spare parts. The trade reduces the present strength of the major-league club, but saves money, increases moveable pieces and puts them in position to address further needs.

“It all depends upon how they spend the money they save.”