One of the biggest reasons for the letdown in 2018 has been a calf injury that ultimately derailed Josh Donaldson’s season. The former MVP has played in just 36 games for the Blue Jays this year and has been on the disabled list since late May. As a result, the Jays weren’t able to deal Donaldson prior to the non-waiver trade deadline in July.
Obviously heading into the season it appeared inevitable that Donaldson, Toronto’s most valuable player to be dangled in a trade, would be dealt if the season went sideways. Now, here we are in the middle of August, and trading Donaldson before the final trade deadline doesn’t even really appear to be an option.
And then there’s this. Shi Davidi appeared on Good Show with Ben Ennis and JD Bunkis on Friday to discuss Donaldson’s future with the team. He said that he isn’t sure the Jays will even tender him a qualifying offer because there’s a possibility he might accept it.
— Sportsnet 590 The FAN (@FAN590) August 17, 2018
That’s, uh, a problem?
I had always figured, given Donaldson’s injury and his subsequent decrease in value, that simply qualifying him made the most sense for the organization. At best, he accepts it and comes back on a one-year show me deal. If he’s healthy and mashes like he can, maybe the Jays contend for a wild card spot. If they still suck, then they can make the trade in 2019 they weren’t able to make in 2018. Even if he doesn’t accept, Toronto would still get a compensatory draft pick out of it, which, at this point could potentially be more valuable than whatever they managed to get back for him in a trade. I mean, given what the Tigers managed to get for JD Martinez last year during an All-Star campaign, I can’t imagine the return for a rental Donaldson would be very exciting.
This is extremely strange to me. You’d think that the Jays would be all over qualifying Donaldson at this point. I mean, if you keep Donaldson around, you’re telling the fanbase you’re interested in competing in 2019 when that might not really be the case. That’s obviously a boost for season ticket sales. Beyond that, if you have Donaldson pencilled in as your third baseman, it becomes a hell of a lot easier to justify keeping Vlad in Triple-A to manipulate his service time. I have a feeling nobody is going to buy into any Brandon Drury hype at this point.
I never expected the Jays to hand Donaldson a long-term deal in free agency given his age and potential to rapidly decline, but I really can’t see the issue with bringing him back for another year. Am I missing something here?
Wouldn’t you want this kind of guy around your rookies as they break into the league?