* - at least from inside the division. He will still get to torture the Astros from inside the league.
In a stunning development that no one saw coming, the A's have traded Josh Donaldson and his remaining four years of team control (albeit as a Super-Two, so he will go to arbitration four times) for four players from various levels of the Blue Jays system. The players heading from the Jays to the A's are - in order from the most to the least advanced - 3B/sometime 2B Brett Lawrie, LHP Sean Nolin, RHP Kendell Graveman, and the delicious sounding SS Franklin Barreto.
If it seemed like Donaldson just plain raked every time he played the Astros, that is because it was true. He mashed to the tune of .356/.479/.637 against the Astros, for an OPS of 1.116. That OPS is the highest that Donaldson had against AL teams thus far his career. In 167 plate appearances, he walked 26 times, struck out 16 times, and hit 7 home runs, two triples and 12 doubles.
Now that Donaldson plays only 6 or 7 games against the Astros per season - rather than 19 games - the Astros could benefit to the tune of about... 12 or 13 wins. I am pretty sure that the math works there because it seems that he singlehandedly sunk the Astros every time they met.
Donaldson's numbers may not even take much of a tumble moving away from the AL West and Astros, however. He is moving to a righty-friendly ballpark, in an interesting AL East. I mean, have you seen the Red Sox's projected rotation recently? He could probably hit .500/.600/.800 against those guys. So he takes his awesome twitter handle (@BringerOfRain20) to the AL East, where he could be looking at 40 home runs next year.
This didn't quite make MLBTR, but I heard from reliable sources* that the Astros nearly beat the Jays to the punch by offering Matt Dominguez straight up.
And apparently the A's aren't done, as they are checking out the RH outfield power that the Braves have. And Astros fan KevinBassStache's surprised tweet made the ESPN Sweetspot quick take that reported on the trade.
This tells me that the trade market is alive, despite the relative inactivity of the Astros. One would wonder whether the Blue Jays will be prepared to let a rookie with 43 PA under his belt man CF next year, or whether they will try and trade for a veteran like Dexter Fowler.
* - my ouija board