“Billy Boy”: The Josh Donaldson trade was reportedly sparked by an argument with Billy Beane

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Well, this would certainly explain the Josh Donaldson trade better than a lot of other things. Scott Miller of Bleacher Report says that, late in the season, the A’s All-Star third baseman got into a shouting match with GM Billy Beane. The reason for the dispute: Donaldson said he needed a day off and Beane wasn’t having it.

Miller said Beane told Donaldson if he couldn’t play he should go on the DL and Donaldson chafed. Then this:

“Donaldson told the manager he needed a blow, and [Bob] Melvin said, ‘You got it,’ ” the source said. “Then that night’s lineup came out and Billy asked, ‘Where’s Donaldson?’ ”

When told what happened, the source says, an angry Beane demanded that Melvin put Donaldson back into the lineup.
“They got into it in the coach’s office,” the source says, describing a scene in which Beane lit into Donaldson, with the third baseman reiterating his need for a day off and petulantly calling Beane “Billy Boy.”

“Nobody talks to Billy that way,” the source said. “It did not surprise me in the least that he got rid of Donaldson.”

Moreover, last night Wendy Thurm linked to a pre-trade series of tweets by Donaldson in which he appeared to be taking issue with the A’s frugal ways too. Specifically, someone talked about the A’s being strapped for cash and Donaldson said “they have plenty of money my friend. They just tell everyone they don’t.” Of course, Billy Beane, in addition to being the GM, is part-owner of the A’s.

This wouldn’t be the first time Beane traded off a guy who he considered to be a problem in what, at the time, seemed to be a perplexing deal for an unequal return. Anyone remember Jeremy Giambi for John Mabry in 2002? That was some fun stuff. At the time people kinda freaked out because Giambi was seen as a prospect/SABR-darling and Mabry was . . . not. Of course, we came to learn that Giambi was a total screwup and Mabry, quite amazingly, played like and MVP after the trade. And of course, those 2002 A’s were the “Moneyball” A’s who went on to win 103 games.

Which isn’t to say that the Donaldson trade will turn out that way. Donaldson is, after all, a legitimately good player whereas Giambi was . . . not. At all. But, if Miller’s report is true, it would not be the first time Beane was willing to ride someone he perceived to be a problem out of town on a rail.

Report: Qualifying offer to be in the $18 million range

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According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, teams have been told that the qualifying offer to free agents this offseason will be in the $18 million range, likely $18.1 million. The value is derived by taking the average of the top 125 player salaries.

At $18.1 million, that would be $900,000 more than the previous QO, which was $17.2 million. This will impact soon-to-be free agents like Jake Arrieta, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, and Yu Darvish, among others. That also assumes that the aforementioned players aren’t traded, which would make them ineligible to receive qualifying offers. We’ve seen, increasingly, that teams aren’t willing to make a QO to an impending free agent and that trend is likely to continue this offseason.

The QO system was modified by the newest collective bargaining agreement. The compensatory pick for a team losing a player who declined a QO used to be a first-round pick. That was a penalty to both teams and players, which is why it was changed. Via MLB’s website pertaining to the QO:

A team that exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season will lose its second- and fifth-highest selections after the first round in the following year’s Draft as well $1 million from its international bonus pool. If such a team signs multiple qualifying offer free agents, it will forfeit its third- and sixth-highest remaining picks as well.

A team that receives revenue sharing will lose its third-highest selection after the first round in the following year’s Draft. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its fourth-highest remaining pick.

A team that neither exceeded the luxury tax in the preceding season nor receives revenue sharing will lose its second-highest selection after the first round in the following year’s Draft as well as $500,000 from its international bonus pool. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its third-highest remaining pick.

Additionally, if a player who rejected a QO signs a guaranteed contract worth at least $50 million and came from a team that receives revenue sharing, that previous team will receive a compensatory pick immediately following the first round in the ensuing draft. If the contract is less than $50 million, that team will get a compensatory pick after Competitive Balance Round B. If the player’s team is over the luxury tax threshold, that team will receive a compensation pick following the fourth round. If that team neither exceeded the luxury tax nor receives revenue sharing, the compensation pick will come after Competitive Balance Round B.

Yeah, it’s a bit convoluted, but you do the best you can with a flawed system.

The Astros’ pursuit of Sonny Gray is “heating up”

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Jon Morosi of MLB Networks reports that talks are “heating up” between the Astros and Athletics on a Sonny Gray trade. Gray, obviously, would represent a big upgrade for the Astros’ rotation. He has a 3.66 ERA and has struck out 85 batters while walking 28 in 91 innings.

Morosi adds that Gray is not the only option for the Astros, as they are also talking to the Tigers about a potential acquisition of Justin Verlander and Justin Wilson. That would obviously be a much tougher deal to negotiate given Verlander’s 10/5 rights giving him veto power over any trade, not to mention the massive amount of money he’s still owed on his contract.

Also: I’m pretty sure that it’s in the MLB rules that any trade between the Tigers and the Astros has to involve Brad Ausmus, C.J. Nitkowski and Jose Lima, and that’s not possible given their current occupations and/or their deaths in 2010.