He’s the player who helped usher in a brand new era of contending baseball for the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, he’s the man the Blue Jays can’t get rid of quickly enough.
If this is how it all ends for Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s a sombre way to see out one of the franchise’s most important figures from the last 25 years.
After a brief derailment on Wednesday, the Donaldson-Blue Jays breakup appears to be back on track again. Unless he suffered a setback or he didn’t seem healthy enough after his latest rehab game, everything points towards a last-ditch attempt by the Blue Jays to send Donaldson elsewhere.
It’s been a roller coaster week for the former American League MVP. He went from being put on waivers, to finally playing in a rehab game for the first time in months, to missing the next game due to soreness, only to return the next day and hit a home run.
Nothing about this scenario was foreseeable and yet everything about it feels odd. A team that coincidentally gets their star third baseman into rehab games is also the final week he’s eligible for a trade.
Just when you thought the Donaldson dilemma couldn’t get any messier, then this; Donaldson’s comments to Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun.
Donaldson on his situation with the #Bluejays front office this year: “There’s a lot I can say about that but I choose not to say anything about it right now. There will be a time."
— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) August 31, 2018
We'll have the full Donaldson stuff @TheTorontoSun later tonight but one thing stands out – he says he wants to play a game or two at triple A before returning to the majors.
— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) August 30, 2018
The irony is that by choosing to say nothing, Donaldson said a lot. Maybe the rift between him and the front office is much deeper than we think. Ultimately, this sounds like an incredibly frustrated baseball player.
He finished Top 10 in AL MVP voting for four consecutive years. Even during an injury-shortened season in 2017, Donaldson still posted ungodly numbers for the Blue Jays. His 22 home runs over August and September last year were reason alone to believe in his ability to deliver MVP-calibre numbers for the Blue Jays this year.
Now we’re left wondering if he’ll play another game this year, period … and whether that’s in Toronto (unlikely) or somewhere else (very likely).
I get why the Blue Jays are moving so quickly to get rid of Donaldson. It’s not so much the salary as it is kick-starting what was going to happen anyway this winter. This also eliminates the qualifying offer discussion; something the Blue Jays might prefer not have hanging over their heads once the season comes to its merciful end.
To the Blue Jays, trading Donaldson could be worth more than just the roster spot. The money attached to Donaldson is irrelevant because the team’s paying him anyway. If the Jays can trade him and net a low-level prospect in return, they’ll do everything in their power not to deal with this dilemma for the final month of the regular season.
You can also understand why Donaldson isn’t exactly thrilled by how this played out. There might be some residual resentment on his part from the rumoured contract extension talks last winter, which could contribute to some bitterness on both sides. That compounded with Donaldson’s injuries in his free agent year would be enough to upset any player.
If you’re curious what beef Donaldson might have with the Blue Jays front office, it’s this: his entire season boiled down to this rehab stint in Dunedin. From the outside, it looks like the Jays are rushing to rid themselves of a guy whose season went completely sideways.
If the Jays only get pennies on the dollar for Donaldson, they’re desperately scrambling in an eleventh-hour attempt to cash in whatever remote trade value he has. The alternative to trading him? Letting this situation reach its natural and less awkward conclusion.
Donaldson’s concern is his long-term health and rehabbing his injury properly and methodically. He’s wondering how this will impact his future; meanwhile, the Jays have no obligation to Donaldson beyond 2018. It’s as though the Blue Jays would just as soon put Donaldson out by the curb and hope somebody drives by and picks up the couch before the garbage truck comes and gets it.
I’m totally spitballing here, but perhaps Donaldson wasn’t impressed with the way he was fast-tracked through rehab games this week? It can’t just be happenstance that he started a rehab assignment this week … of all weeks. Ideally, Donaldson would’ve been eased into rehab games … not thrust into them like a piece of steak marked down and packaged for immediate sale.
If this is really how it all goes down, it’s an unfitting end for a player who helped vault the Blue Jays back into legitimacy. At least with Jose Bautista, there was some sense of finality during his last few months with the Blue Jays. In the case of Donaldson, it’s just ending abruptly.
Of all the scenario’s anyone could’ve cooked up, this is the last one anyone could’ve expected to see Donaldson and the Blue Jays tangled in on waiver trade deadline day. If this is how it all ends, it’s a shame it had to go down this way for Donaldson.