If you had the chance to acquire a superstar player for only one year — giving up many young players in the process — would you do it?
The St. Louis Cardinals have gotten a taste of the action, but it's clear they want more, and these Josh Donaldson/Manny Machado rumors aren't going away, so let's get in the water and play the game for just a little while this afternoon. It's Christmas after all, a time of dreaming and giving, so if there is a moment to ask for more than you deserve, it's right now.
Let me tell you why I'd like Donaldson over Machado, but first, I will lay down a few salty disclaimers:
- This has ZERO connection to a concrete source of the Cardinals acquiring Donaldson.
- Thinking of players involved is not my strong suit, so forgive me if I only include Fredbird, a side or provel bites and a tour of the Blues Museum as collateral.
- THIS IS FUN. Yeah, columnists can have fun too. This is selling one player over another without making complete sense or connecting to other more realistic rumors or ideas.
Now, let's ride. Stir the eggnog and crank up Elvis!
Donaldson would give you an elite player at an important position for the Cardinals because, let's face it, Marcell Ozuna is not a superstar. And that's OK. Ozuna is, potentially, a very good player and producer, someone who will step in and boost this lineup and brighten up the clubhouse. Donaldson gives you a star on the level of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, which the Cardinals haven't had since Jose Alberto Pujols.
Let's just assume it is going to cost you an established position player and 2-3 prospects to get either one of these guys. Alex Reyes won't be included, but Luke Weaver and/or Jack Flaherty will be.
Why would you take someone else over a player like Machado, who is 25, a two-time gold glove winner, and three-time top finisher in MVP voting?
1. Donaldson actually won an MVP award, instead of finishing in the top five. In 2015. he scored one less run than he drove in (122) and put up an OPS of .951 in 159 games. Machado has gotten close, but never finished second. Donaldson has been the best.
2. Career wise, Donaldson's slash line is considerably better. A level separated from another kind of better. Donaldson's career .878 trumps Machado's .805. This is powered by Donaldson's slugging percentage, but also the ability to get on base at a very high rate. I am talking close to .390 and not just .350. There's a difference. Donaldson's 145 OPS+ also beats up Machado's 116 mark(100 is league average).
3. Donaldson is better on the road. Take Machado away from Camden Yards, and his bat becomes quite human. Machado, in 385 games played on the road, has a slugging percentage of .437, 81 points lower than his home slugging. His his overall OPS(on-base plus slugging) is 754.
Donaldson's slugging on the road is .499, just 23 points lower than his home numbers. His home OPS is .890 and drops to .867 on the road.
Donaldson's OBP remains .368 regardless of where he plays, while Machado's drops from .340 at home to .317 on the road. Each guy hits in a launching pad for 81 games a year, but one guy can replicate it on the road. That would help when playing at a pitcher's park like Busch Stadium.
4. Donaldson, seven years older than Machado, is just as durable. Before playing just 113 games, Donaldson had put up 155+ in four straight seasons. For the people who say he is injury-prone due to one season of major injury loss, you are plain wrong. He isn't slowing down, like some would assume a 32-year-old would.
On the other hand, Machado has had both knees surgically repaired.
5. There's a larger chance that Donaldson signs an extension than Machado, and it won't cost you 10 years and $300-350 million. While Machado is an exciting ballplayer who sits next to elite status, do you want to pay him top dollar for ten years with above-average, but not wonderful, offensive production? He's still young and could continue to grow, or he may fall back once he is taken away from Baltimore and the American League. Donaldson is older and would be more willing, in my opinion, to sign a 4 year deal that would take him to age 36 and perhaps include a fifth year team option.
6. Have you seen Donaldson swing a baseball bat and destroy a baseball? It's as deadly as a Frank Grillo overhand right to the jaw.
The one thing, other than age, Machado has on Donaldson is the glove in the field. Machado has two gold gloves, and saves his teams runs in the field. But Donaldson isn't a lost cause in the field. While he isn't gold glove worthy, he has saved the Blue Jays runs in the field (+52 over his career, according to Fangraphs compared to the +81 for Machado) and puts up at the very least an average third base.
Donaldson and Machado are both superstar players who would change the lineup. If the Cards traded for Machado, I wouldn't scream at the sky to bring the rain instead. This is choosing between one dreamy scenario over another, and folks, we are dreaming.
The chances of Mozeliak giving up 3 or 4 players for one year of control is as likely as me giving up regular coffee for decaf this winter. It's not something he does or would like to do. For Giancarlo Stanton, another superstar, he was only reportedly going to have to release Sandy Alcantara from his Bird stable. Donaldson and Machado would cost more birds, and good ones.
And I am still in favor of going to Tampa Bay and asking for Chris Archer and Alex Colome, even if it means taking on Evan Longoria's contract. Longoria is like a lesser version of Donaldson who is falling down in his 30's. Acquiring Archer and Colome would vastly improve the team's 2017-2021 chances. From what I can tell, Donaldson and Machado don't do any pitching.
This is about choosing one expensive steak over another, even if it is one you will be charged triple the price and only get a couple bites of. I could be lost in Donaldson's THREE STRAIGHT SEASONS of a .939 or higher OPS. I could be lost in his ability to put up great numbers in only 113 games. I could simply love his attitude and leadership. Let's put it this way. Donaldson would form a no nonsense alliance with Tommy Pham before a game was played in April. He is a leader and a not a follower, bringing his A game to Twitter as well.
It's unlikely Toronto will move him, and it will cost a lot, but of the two players, I like Donaldson more. His bat is far more electric, he will be easier to re-sign, and his defense isn't bad at all. Then, you can take a look at adding another premier starting pitcher next offseason. Or, you could grab Machado then.
Right now, Josh Donaldson helps the Cards more than Manny Machado. His stats back it up.