Now that Josh Donaldson has left the Athletics, we can go to the next step: juicy stories about internal discord leaking to the media. This particular story describes a big argument between Donaldson and general manager Billy Beane.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that during the season, before the All-Star Break, Donaldson and Beane had clashed when Donaldson asked for a couple of days off. The two told the Chronicle it was a normal talk, but Scott Miller had a different version in his Bleacher Report column (fourth section):
"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."
Would Billy Beane really hold a grudge that long, and was this the only time Donaldson and Beane butted heads in their time together? One argument about something as silly as a few days off couldn't be the only reason to ship out an excellent third baseman, right?
The other factor coming into play is Donaldson's contract: He signed a one-year, $500,000 deal in March, and is now arbitration-eligible. The Blue Jays will have to give him a substantial extension or pay out a big salary in arbitration. The most likely explanation is that Beane was on the fence about dedicating so much money to Donaldson, and their relationship nudged him towards being against it.