If the ever-reliable Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic is to be believed, Wednesday is the day the Toronto Blue Jays put Josh Donaldson on waivers and pave the way for his exit.
It’s not remotely surprising the Blue Jays would give themselves the opportunity to make an August deal, but what might be is Rosenthal’s sourced statement that “Whatever the outcome, the Jays want Donaldson gone.”
What that means is this is not like the Bryce Harper situation where the Washington Nationals were willing to explore a trade, but also revoke a claim and keep the player if the return wasn’t strong. This report indicates that the Blue Jays are more in the business of getting rid of Donaldson than anything else.
That makes sense for a couple of reasons. The first is that getting any kind of major return for the 2015 MVP is impossible at this point. He’s only played a few innings of minor-league ball since May, thanks to both shoulder and calf issues, and hardly looks like a safe bet for any contender. Even when he has played this season he hasn’t played up to his usual standard. Donaldson is also owed approximately $4 million for the remainder of the season, making him an expensive flier.
Beyond the present worries with Donaldson, there’s the issue of what happens this offseason. If the Blue Jays hold onto him they put themselves in a tricky situation. If they don’t give him a qualifying offer they deal with the asset management and PR nightmare of him walking for nothing. If they do tender him an offer — which would come in between $17 million and $18 million – there’s a risk that he takes it as a pillow contract to revive his value.
In theory, having Donaldson under contract for that number in 2019 has its appeal, but in practice it wouldn’t really work. The Blue Jays would be in the same situation as this year, counting on him to stay healthy to swing a deal at some point during the season. He’d also be blocking Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at the hot corner — which is where the club wants to play him, at least initially. Anyone who gets between Vladdy Jr. and at-bats is a problem and if Donaldson goes down again the Blue Jays would face more drawn-out trade drama. It appears that they’d rather wash their hands of the veteran and leave the uncertainty he represents behind.
At this point it looks like this week the Blue Jays are going to trade a franchise great and former MVP who was worth 5.1 WAR as recently as last years for virtually nothing. Although they’d clearly made some miscalculations to reach this point, it’ll probably be for the best.
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