There haven’t been many things to cheer about this season, but this tidbit from Josh Donaldson prior to the Blue Jays’ final game is certainly something.
Donaldson told reporters that he wants to remain a Blue Jay for a long time and that he would be “tickled pink” if him and the front office could work something out. He knows that each sides have prerogatives and that this is out of his control.
Holy fuck, sign this guy already. Josh Donaldson is likely the best position player in Blue Jays history, and if he ends up signing a deal that keeps him around for a few more seasons, he’ll very likely go down as the best Blue Jay of all time.
But he turns 32 years old in December, meaning he’ll be 33 going into his first free agent season in 2019. With the crash and bang gritty style that Donaldson plays, there’s obviously some inherent risk to signing him to a long-term deal at this age. This year, we saw what a broken down Donaldson could look like. But we were also reminded just how damn good he is. Despite missing a month of action, the Bringer of Rain clubbed 33 homers and, for a short while there, had the Jays to within three games back of a wild card spot.
A comparable player to Donaldson at this stage in his career, as Keegan matheson points out, would be Adrian Beltre, a guy who’s been a rock for the Texas Rangers into his late-30s. If all things go well for the Jays on a hypothetical Donaldson extension, Beltre would be the path he follows.
If you're the #BlueJays looking at Josh Donaldson age 32-37, Adrian Beltre is what you hope for— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) October 1, 2017
Age 32-37 averages:
Of course, nothing is that predictable. Who knows whether Donaldson will continue to be an MVP-calibre player for five more years? But barring a major injury, Josh Donaldson will make the Blue Jays better in 2018 and 2019. There isn’t very much doubt about that.
If he starts to decline after that, it’s likely been enough time to bridge the gap to Bo and Vlad, which represents the new wave of talent that could lead this team. By then, also, Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin’s combined $40 million salary becomes a much more manageable $14 million owed to the former. The Jays have an opportunity to build for the future all while still being competitive and having Josh Donaldson around is a key part of that.
Yeah, I’m getting ahead of myself here. But Josh Donaldson is a Blue Jay. And he wants to continue to be a Blue Jay. Rogers, Shapiro, Atkins, and the front office need to find a way to make this work. I understand the appeal to dealing a Donaldson calibre player for a king’s ransom, but I would much rather have a boat than a mystery box that could be a boat.