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Jays ‘Haven’t Really Made Any Attempt To Lock Down’ Donaldson, ‘May Be Agreeable To Moving Him’: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

I mean, you’ve already read the money quotes in the title of this piece, but one more time, for the sake of formality, here’s what Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch told his readers on Wednesday:

As the Cardinals continue their search for bullpen help, perhaps another hitter and maybe a starter, word in Toronto is that the Blue Jays haven’t really made any attempt to lock down star third baseman Josh Donaldson to a long-term deal and may be agreeable to moving him.

Thing is, I’m not sure we can just assume that a St. Louis reporter has sources deep in the Jays’ front office on the attempting-to-re-sign-Donaldson front. There does seem to be a sense that not much negotiating has yet happened between the Jays and their best player, largely, I think, because the two sides have an arbitration case upcoming, and it seems only natural that that’s when they’ll get most serious about it.

Granted, maybe that’s just a convenient excuse for the front office, and for those of us who want to hold out hope that they’ll actually eventually come to an agreement. But whatever the case, I don’t know that we believe the Jays are disinterested based on a casual line in a trade speculation piece coming out of St. Louis. Consider also how very tight-lipped Ross Atkins was when asked about the meeting Donaldson had at the end of the season, where Donaldson claims to have said he told the club that remaining in Toronto is his first choice. I could be wrong on this, but if an extension happens, I don’t think we’re going to hear about it for a week beforehand.

And as for the club being “agreeable to moving him,” though the Jays have continued to insist that they’d have a very hard time getting better by moving their best player, there really are no “untouchables” these days. So, in the most technical sense, any team is probably “agreeable” to moving anybody, if it’s for the right price. Maybe I’m just trying to read the things I want to into this, but that seems to be where this whole story is at. It’s not like the Cardinals don’t know what the situation here is, and so it’s not strange to think that they could find a way to offer the Jays enough 2018 value, enough prospect value, and enough years of control beyond Donaldson’s one to at least put a package together that will make the Jays think.

And maybe the Jays get there. I can’t blame the Cardinals for trying to push them in that direction. Especially with the Yankees and the Angels loading up, maybe St. Louis thinks there’s an opportunity to change the Jays’ minds about how important it is to try to be competitive in 2018 — or that the changes to the AL landscape offer the Jays a chance to sell taking a step backwards to their players and fans. A lot of fans are receptive to the idea already. But for the most part I think this was always the case.

So are we really getting anything new at all in Hummel’s eye-catching statement? I’m not so sure.

He adds:

A Major League Baseball source familiar with the Jays said Toronto probably would want two major leaguers — such as a third baseman and a starting pitcher — and a prospect. The Cardinals have two starting third basemen in Matt Carpenter and Jedd Gyorko. They also have a spare outfielder in power hitter Randal Grichuk.

The Cardinals also have young starting pitching, but would they risk it for the possibility of only one year of Donaldson, who had 33 homers last season while missing nearly 50 games because of injury? Two or more prospects would seem to be something the Cardinals would not do with Toronto.

That’s pretty close to the Dave Cameron proposal, which I’ve said from the get-go makes some sense — or, more specifically, that “at the very least it does look like a viable way to move the Jays’ best player without getting so much worse in the near term as to render keeping all sorts of other veterans and free-agents-to-be completely pointless.” The idea of getting something from St. Louis that could be flipped for someone like Christian Yelich would be even better, I think. But the Jays can be demanding here — can and should. As much as some fans are eager to say otherwise, they don’t have to either re-sign Donaldson or deal him ASAP. Moving him in July remains a viable option, albeit with a lower return likely (and risk that his health, his performance, or a lack of buyers with a third base need worsens that outcome significantly). The Cardinals themselves might still be looking for an impact bat at that point. Or maybe the Jays will be in strong enough position as to not want to sell.

Crazier things have happened, and many paths for this club to still get a whole lot better this winter still remain. Moving Donaldson is one way to ensure the club isn’t better in 2018, but the choice to do it for the years ahead surely must still be tempting. I don’t think I’d be surprised by any outcome at this point.

  • Oakville Jays

    I would be shocked if Donaldson was traded before July 2018. It would be a depressing way to start the 2018 season without Donaldson in the lineup.

    i find it hard to believe that the Jays can’t afford to extend Josh Donaldson.

    • sons

      With all the other free agents next year, does Donaldson at his age really expect to get much higher than 100M? I feel like they could get him now and backload it so they can also take on a Liriano type contract and actually look serious about going for the playoffs.

      • lukewarmwater

        I think the optics would be terrible to move him now as Rogers won’t get the 3.2 million through the turn styles of last year, but they sure as hell expect probably around 2.7 to 2.8 million. Moving him now would simply tell the fans that 2018 is a total rebuild year. I think Stoeten is correct in that they will try to move him at the July trade dead lline and likely receive less quality back. For Rogers who have given the faithful Jay fans 2 measley playoff years in their long ownership of the team, WINNING at the bank will always come first.

  • Aaronmagoo

    If Donaldson has an MVP caliber season how much would his value go up? Bautista and Edwin signed for much less (like 200 million) than would have been required a year out. I think waiting a year on extending older free agents makes a lot of sense. Granted he’s younger and better than JB and Edwin were.

    • lukewarmwater

      What happens if he gets hurt again this season. His style of play , namely going into the stands to make a catch doesn’t help him as he is now past 30. The injuries have proven this. What is his value if he can’t stay healthy during the year. Let us not forget the leg muscle problems popped up a couple of times during the year.

      • Jimbo Jones

        Donaldson has gone on the disabled list exactly once in his MLB career, and that injury, the aforementioned leg muscle strain, had almost to do with his style of play.

  • Rob Ray

    This is like musical chairs. St. Louis wants a third baseman, Longoria is now out of the mix so the available third basemen are disappearing. If they can’t have Donaldson, then they must meet the asking price on Machado or forget about it. Who would cost them less, Donaldson or Machado? Easily Donaldson. The Blue Jays can only trade Josh once, if they do at all, so I say give the Jays Reyes, Gyorko and Grichuk ad you’ve got a deal. Don’t like it? Then cowboy up for Machado.

  • ‘Moving Donaldson is one way to ensure the club isn’t better in 2018’

    does that not depend on the return? i mean, it seems fairly easy to envision a scenario in which the return, while likely not spectacular, is good enough to allow them to remain competitive in 2018 – it’s not as though the bar was set overly high in ’17; you’re never going to offset his (josh’s) loss with a single player, but if you can ‘replace’ him positionally (without too big a drop-off in production), while filling a hole in the OF, and get a decent-ish prospect out of it, and IF you have reason to believe Josh is looking to test the market rather than either sign an extension or re-up next year, i’m not sure that’s so bad (again, if you KNOW the likelihood of him not being a jay in ’18 is high).

    so, something along the lines of a gyorko + grichuk + prospect should give them the ability to remain competitive in ’18, while getting younger, gaining future (short & long-term) control, and freeing up $$ to take on a bigger fish either in trade or FA right now. gyorko is obviously no josh, but he’s pretty fkn alright, & grichuk, while (again) not great, is almost certainly better than any of their current OF options. but the side benefit is the cost saving; like it or not, they have a payroll, so going this route now does free up more money to go after (or take on) a starter, or another MLB-ready starting OF (or both, if the stars align).

    i’ll always look to get as much value out of a single source as possible, so trading josh isn’t something anyone should be looking to do….but if you have reason to believe he’s either going to leave anyway, or be priced out of your range, then getting what you can for him when you can get it seems reasonable.

  • TGreg

    IMO, it all hinges on Reyes. If the Cards are willing to put him on the table, a deal gets done. If not, nope.
    A 2019 rotation that starts with Stoman, Sanchez, and Reyes would be pretty sweet.

    • revolu

      As much as Reyes would be an overpay for them, we hold the cards here, its not like we are in any rush to trade him. Squeeze every bit of overpay if you can

      • i think they do that as long as they can re-sign/extend JD, which they probably could. i mean, if the roles were flipped, and we/jays felt they were a legit contender, but were just a bit short, would we be willing to give up, say, bo as part of deal to improve our odds, we all seem to be in agreement we would. is reyes their bo, or their vlad?

        • revolu

          Oh yeah for sure, Reyes was #20 on fangraphs mid-season top 100. Baseball America had him at 12!!!!

          Though Vlad is a consensus top 3 prospect now so he’s worth more.

    • ErnieWhitt

      I don’t see Reyes as the deal breaker. You’re obviously asking after him first but I imagine that the deal would be done if he was included. The Cards match up really well as trade partners with the Jays with roster players and a prospect pool that is fairly deep with pitching. Flaherty would be a great get for the Jays. He’s already pitched in MLB and was great in AAA. Alcantra is another intriguing arm. Maybe if you’re looking at guys down the line a bit they include a roster player that can help immediately.

    • El Cabeza

      That’s the key. The prospect has to be a stud. Neither Grichuk or Gyorko are going to be MVP candidates. You don’t trade your MVP candidate for a whole team worth of above average players unless you also get a prospect with through the roof potential.

  • vic

    Gyorko and Reyes make the most sense for the Jays. Maybe add a reliever on the Jays end (Tepera?) and an outfielder from the Cardinals (Grichuk?) to balance it out a bit more if the Cards are unwilling to move Reyes. Let’s face it, a former top 10 prospect in baseball would be pretty hard to get from the Jays standpoint, especially since the only reason he might be attainable at all is because of an injury. A 2019 rotation of a fully healthy Reyes, Stroman, and hopefully a blister-free Sanchez is tantalizing.

    • that’s pretty much what i was thinking – and it’s probably fair, cards fans would think it’s too much, jays fans would think it’s not enough to get/too much to give up (i.e. incl a good BP arm, on top of josh frqn D).

  • lukewarmwater

    I’m noticing more and more Toronto media writing stories pointing out that Stroman is becoming a pain to the team. You know kind of the Subban treatment, he is uppity, out spoken, colorful, wears his heart on the sleeve. How are the Habs doing these days with out P.K. Moving Stroman who is the anchor of the staff would be utterly stupid. Btw I thought one of the better comments made was that Sanchez had no blisters as of today but as the individual stated we shall see how his finger is in April and May. Jay fans will pray that he has gotten over this unfortunate injury as he truly was one of the best in 2016 with that 15 and 2 record, oops is it okay to mention his win and lost record these days. I don’t want to upset the stats boys.