The Jays losing Josh Donaldson next winter and getting only a draft pick back wouldn’t be a disaster, but it wouldn’t be very a good outcome for the club. The Jays moving Donaldson at the trade deadline in July, when there will be fewer suitors and a smaller bounty to be received, wouldn’t be too much worse for the long-term health of the franchise than dealing him now, but it would certainly be worse.
And so the club needs to weigh very carefully what they do this winter with their best player.
If other teams are willing to make the Jays an offer, they have to at least listen. And it sounds like they are:
#STLCards have spoken with #BlueJays about Donaldson at meetings, sources tell The Athletic. No indication a deal is close. To this point, Jays seemingly bullish about keeping Donaldson, looking to add. GM Atkins mentioned Jay Bruce, CarGo as possible fits to reporters today.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2017
Keep in mind, though, a couple days ago Rosenthal also said this:
Asked about Josh Donaldson on MLB Network, @Ken_Rosenthal says "Not getting traded" without blinking.
— BVH (@BVHJays) December 11, 2017
So… yeah. I don’t know. It’s really not easy to say anything new about this. The arguments for and against it are clear and pretty well understood. On one hand, even as someone who would much prefer they not sell — not yet anyway, not until July, and only then if they really have to — I can’t deny that a Donaldson trade would could add a very nice piece or two for the 2019, 20, and 21 versions of this club, and would only come at the expense of a 2018 season that’s already looking difficult. On the other, as the fact that we think teams will be lining up to give the Jays great assets in return for him shows, there is a ton of value in giving yourself a chance to be good, even if it’s just for one year.
The pessimistic fans who don’t think the Jays can possibly make themselves good enough want to see them really explore it. Personally, I think the value of not punting on 2018 offsets enough of the difference between what you might get now and might get in July to make moving him very close to a non-starter. Call me crazy, but I think the possibility of a fun season sounds fun. And call me crazy, but I think that with Donaldson, Stroman, Sanchez, Osuna, Martin, Happ, Estrada, Travis, Tulowitzki, Smoak, and whoever else the Jays are going to be able to add between now and Opening Day, that possibility is real. They might not be good enough. They might not be healthy enough. They might get hit with regression and decline in places where they can least afford it. But they’re genuinely not a true talent 76 win team like a lot of fans seem desperate to believe they are, either. And I really don’t think it’s going to be as difficult as many think to improve on a roster that in 2017 gave them nothing or less than nothing from right field, the middle infield, their backup catchers, the DH spot, and Aaron Sanchez.
It’s going to be OK, in other words. Fun, even. And I don’t think that they’re merely talking with the Cardinals is going to change that — especially when considering this stuff:
Asked #STLCards GM Girsch a/b idea of trading for cornerstone-type player (Ex: Machado) who comes w/ 1-year left before free agency. He said you only make that deal if able to stomach cost of trade, plus risk of not extending guy. Said it's "not a path we are likely to go down."
— Ben Frederickson (@Ben_Fred) December 13, 2017
So… there’s that.