Josh Donaldson

A Josh Donaldson FanGraphs Trade Proposal You Might Warm Up To

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Call it a hunch, but it sounds like the Toronto Blue Jays will hang onto Josh Donaldson this winter. Surely, they’ve received some creative trade offers from other teams, but Donaldson may be more valuable to the Blue Jays 2018′ playoff push than as a trade chip this offseason.

For months, I’ve been lukewarm on the idea of the Blue Jays dealing a generational talent like Donaldson. The fact that the Blue Jays acquired him in the first place was a miracle. To let him go would seem like an injustice; but he may walk as a free agent at the end of 2018.

The team will soon reach a crossroads; whether it’s this winter or next, they’ll need to make a decision on whether Donaldson fits into the team’s long-term plans. That decision may be expedited if the right offer comes along.



Speaking of the right offer, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs put forth the most realistic, logical and balanced trade proposal for Donaldson I’ve seen yet. In his hypothetical deal, the Blue Jays would send Donaldson for Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter.

I have to say, it’s not a bad idea and it makes sense for both sides. The Cardinals are flush with infielders and could afford to move one or two. Gyorko and Carpenter’s infield versatility would be extremely valuable to the Blue Jays. For the Cardinals, they significantly boost their 2018 playoff odds by getting one of the best players in baseball.

Gyorko and Carpenter may not be the sexiest names coming back in a trade, but Carpenter’s been a consistent 3-to-4-win player the last three years and Gyorko’s been a 2-win player since 2015. Not only that, both guys are under team control for the next three more seasons.

Acquiring players of their calibre also fulfills the Blue Jays’ requirement of competing in 2018 sans Donaldson without taking too much of a step backwards. It’s basically like splitting Donaldson in half and having Gyorko and Carpenter command two positions rather than one by Donaldson.

In theory, this would all be contingent of the Blue Jays being unable (or not having interest) in inking Donaldson to a contract extension. If that ship has sailed or the asking price is too high, then perhaps the front office does entertain a move like this.

No matter which players or prospects may come back in return, a Donaldson trade is a tough sell regardless of how it’s packaged to the fan base. It’s also a tough sell to allow him to walk next year as a free agent, so the Blue Jays are bound to receive backlash anyway.

A trade like this seems rare in today’s dealings of prospects and international bonus pool money. Very rarely does a player the calibre of Donaldson get moved for two Major League position players.

Some may prefer a package which is centred around prospects, but given the Blue Jays’ narrow window of contention, I’d be leery to trade Donaldson for prospects because prospects are essentially lottery tickets. Taking a gamble on big-leaguers is far less of gamble.

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If I’m trading someone like Donaldson, given the Blue Jays’ current needs on the roster, I’m looking for Major League-ready players in return. The Cardinals may not be willing to give up two of them for one year of Donaldson, but it’s an interesting jumping-off point.

I’ve come to grips with the notion that Donaldson may not fetch as much in return as one would hope for a perennial MVP candidate. One year of control for Donaldson may be huge stumbling block for teams who feel like they’re close, but not quite ready to push all-in on 2018.

Depending on what happens in the next few months, I seriously doubt the Blue Jays are one of the clubs. Instead, they may just be on the periphery in hopes their back luck in 2017 has passed and they can contend in 2018.

Contending without a talent like Donaldson may seem impossible, but with Vladimir Guerrero Jr. waiting in the wings, losing Donaldson becomes a little more palatable when there’s the potential of a top prospect making an impact at the big league level.

What happens surrounding Donaldson and the Blue Jays over the next 12 months depends on the timeline for Guerrero Jr. Subtracting Donaldson’s production would be a huge blow to the Blue Jays, but the possibility of Guerrero Jr. making up some of the difference is very intriguing.

Combine Guerrero Jr.’s ceiling with whatever package of potential players the Blue Jays may get back in a trade for Donaldson and the Blue Jays may not be much further behind. In fact, they could come out ahead of Guerrero Jr. turns out to be the superstar everybody’s hoping he will be.

Ultimately, my gut tells me the Blue Jays won’t entertain offers for Donaldson this winter because they’re giving the impression that 2018 is a contention year. In the short term, it’s extremely difficult picture the Blue Jays getting by without Donaldson in the lineup. However, sooner or later, the Blue Jays will have to find a way to survive without Donaldson.

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez “mine” incident. He’ll also retell the story of Game 5 of the ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.


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7 Comments

  1. Jim Scott

    November 28, 2017 - 10:34 am

    My problem with FanGraph’s proposal is that they see Gyorko’s and Carpenter’s positional flexibility as major factors. Carpenter has not played 40 games in a season at 2B since 2013, and he is a career -6 DRS/100 and a -25 in 2016. He is a below-average-but bearable -2 DRS/100 career at 3B, but in his last full year at that position (2015) he was -8. So he is a below-average (possibly well below average) defensive 3B, and it is questionable whether he can still play 2B.

    Gyorko is a good 3B – an excellent 17 DRS/100 in 900 innings last year. He is also a decent 2B, though he has only ~400 innings at 2B in the last two years. But he has only 432 career innings at short, and is a -16 DRS/1000 (-26 UZR/150).

    So what we are looking at are two 1B/3B types who *might* be able to play 2B but who are only emergency options at SS. Neither of them have any significant experience in the outfield.

    That said, I applaud Dave Cameron for – as you say – coming up with a reasonable and realistic trade scenario that makes sense for both sides.

    1. Ian Hunter

      November 28, 2017 - 7:41 pm

      I’m not totally convinced the Cards would be willing to even do this deal for one year of Donaldson. If there was an additional year … maybe. But they’d have to feel they’re really close to make a trade of this magnitude for only one year of Donaldson.

  2. David H

    November 28, 2017 - 10:56 am

    No way I am trading Donaldson to STL unless one of there top pitching prospects is part of the deal.

  3. Dr Johnny Fever

    November 28, 2017 - 12:17 pm

    If I may change the subject… what’s your thoughts on the upcoming inaugural Winter Fest? I’ve never attended something like this, so I’m wondering if it’s worth going. I guess my worry is too many fans, too few activities, therefore making line-ups so long that it’s not fun.

    1. Ian Hunter

      November 28, 2017 - 8:37 pm

      It’s hard to say – I think this is the first time the Blue Jays have ever held a “Winter Fest” event at the ballpark. My guess is there is going to be a TONNE of people there, so access to players/alumni will be really limited.

  4. Patrick Cashman

    November 29, 2017 - 11:08 am

    I would prefer that the Blue Jays negotiate an extension with Donaldson and stop pretending to be a small market team.

  5. Terry

    December 2, 2017 - 11:37 am

    I too have my doubts that the Cards would be willing. However, when they lose out on Stanton who knows huh?
    I will be sad when JD goes for sure. But it will really suck if he goes for nothing. A trade like this would open up so many intriguing possibilities for the Jays. If they were too follow it up with a couple of good free agent signings or win the Ohtani lottery, then I would sadly have to agree with such a move

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