The decorations ship sometime in the middle of summer, hiding out in storage closets to be slowly unveiled once Labour Day passes. As October approaches you can already start to feel the music — the dreadful, hopelessly square music that will soon be omnipresent — close in around you. Even before Halloween, pumpkin spice lattes begin to give way to peppermint mochas and eggnog concoctions and rows of decorations spill into the aisles of stores.
You know, it’s true what they say. Bullshit season seems to arrive earlier and earlier every year.
And hark! What’s that I hear! Is it sleigh bells????…
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) September 29, 2017
Ahhhhhhhhh. Give me a hot fucking mug of cocoa for this shit!
Ho ho ho. We laugh, but, of course, I don’t actually think this is bullshit. I have no doubt that the Cardinals will try to come up with a package that entices the Jays enough to trade Donaldson to them (and make those just-announced games in Montréal next March all the more awkward!). I’m sure we’ll hear of other teams trying to do so as well. When we do, it won’t be bullshit. It just won’t necessarily be newsworthy, either.
There are few organizations in the game that wouldn’t benefit from having Josh Donaldson on their roster. In fact, the number is actually zero. I’m sure any team would welcome the chance to figure out how to accommodate both Josh and their incumbent third baseman. And with Donaldson unsigned beyond 2018, they’re all likely going to come crawling out of the woodwork, trying to entice the Blue Jays with offers this winter.
How could they not, really? The other teams in this league aren’t dumb. They see the Blue Jays posturing about taking another run at the playoffs and keeping their core of players mostly intact, but they all know that Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro understand what a step backwards it would be for the organization to watch one of the three or four best players in the game walk away for a draft pick — and not even a high draft pick, either!
Yes, that’s right. In case you missed the changes in the new CBA, here, via Forbes, are the rules for draft pick compensation that teams will be working under this winter:
A Former Club of a Free Agent subject to draft pick compensation will receive the following:
- A non-market disqualified Revenue Sharing Payee Club shall receive a selection immediately following the first round of the draft if the player signs a contract with a total guarantee of $50 million or more.
- Clubs that break the Luxury Tax threshold shall receive a draft selection immediately following the fourth round of the next Rule 4 Draft.
- All other former clubs shall receive a selection immediately following the Competitive Balance Round B of the next Rule 4 Draft (which follows the second round).
In plain English, a “non-market disqualified Revenue Sharing Payee Club” is a team that is eligible to receive revenue sharing. Though they used to receive this, thanks to the magical accounting of Paul Godfrey’s crew, since MLB switched their revenue sharing formula to be based on market size the Blue Jays are no longer one of the eligible clubs. They are also not over the luxury tax threshold, of course, meaning that the Jays fall into the third group. If Donaldson remains in Toronto all the way through 2018, then walks away as a free agent next winter, the Jays will receive a draft pick sandwiched between the second and the third rounds of the 2019 draft. Gone are the days of receiving a pick from the team who signed your former player.
How hard will a team like the Cardinals have to push before the Jays front office starts to see their offer as being in the best interest of the club?
Until the Jays sign Donaldson, that’s going to be the million damn dollar question.
Mark Shapiro has repeatedly said that it’s hard to see the club being better without Donaldson. And he’s repeatedly said that the aim is to try to wring another competitive year out of the club’s current core — something that’s not quite as far fetched as many dispirited fans want to believe, as Gideon Turk excellently explained in a piece today for BP Toronto on the Twins and the Jays’ path forward. But can the Jays be good enough with, say, a couple of cheap, young, legitimate big league pieces and most of Donaldson’s expected $20 million+ salary repurposed into mid-tier free agents who might even have some value at the trade deadline?
If you’re the front office, you could certainly make that argument — and quite easily make the argument that, unless you really think you can re-sign Donaldson, it would leave you better off in the long run. But can you sell it to the fans and to the media and to your bosses?
That’s going to be tougher. But it will depend on who is coming back and how those dollars are ultimately used. If, in one fell swoop, the Jays added a couple cheap Cardinals big leaguers in exchange for Donaldson, and threw all that freed-up payroll into taking Giancarlo Stanton off the Marlins’ hands, there would be celebrations in the streets of Toronto, even though we’d be losing a beloved, ass-kicking MVP in the process. But short of that…
The thing is, there’s a good chance that the front office going is be offered something for Donaldson this winter that takes whole lot of discipline from them to turn down. That puts them in a great negotiating position. And the fact that Donaldson’s value should still be plenty high at next year’s trade deadline helps in that regard, too. But in this year’s draft, the selection “immediately following the Competitive Balance Round B” was the 76th pick overall. Winning a World Series but losing Donaldson for only the 76th pick is a trade-off we’d all make. Winning the American League East but losing Donaldson for that is probably a trade-off you’d make, too. But do you do it for a Wild Card appearance? A shot at the Wild Card? And unless the club is unquestionably out of the race next July 31st (which only the worst of the worst teams really are), isn’t it a whole lot harder to justify moving him then than it is to do so now?
I want to believe that the Jays will hold firm, keep Donaldson, reload, and that everything will work out fine — maybe even with Josh signing on for several more years with the club. It’s certainly possible. But there’s a reason we’re already hearing these kinds of rumblings, and a reason we should expect to continue hearing them until either Donaldson puts pen to paper on an extension, or he reports to camp next February. Can the Jays refuse an offer they can’t refuse? Worse, can they sell enough 2018 season tickets between now and the Winter Meetings to then cynically change their public posture about remaining as competitive as possible?
At this point I wouldn’t necessarily rule anything out. And so, in that spirit, I say to you, Merry Bullshit Season! And a happy new beer! (Which I assume you’ll need to drink several of after thinking about all this.)