Josh Donaldson send Blue Jays fans into a tizzy over the weekend when his locker randomly got emptied. His stall featured a completely empty locker with just his name tag which sparked rumours that a trade was imminent, or, worse yet, Donaldson just said “fuck it!” and went home for the season like Troy Tulowitzki.
But, as Ben Nicholson-Smith explained, Donaldson’s locker clean out doesn’t actually mean that a trade is imminent. According to Donaldson, he just wanted to have his stuff for a rehab assignment.
“I want to play soon and wanted to make sure I have everything I need to do that,” said Donaldson. “So I asked the staff to pack up my locker, then I can go through it.”
And, according to Bob Nightendale, that rehab assignment will begin on Tuesday as Donaldson joins the Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays.
When Donaldson’s rehab assignment begins, he can be placed on trade waivers. This ultimately means that Donaldson joining the Dunedin Jays means the trade watch for the former MVP officially begins. The Jays will have until the end of the day on Friday, Aug. 31 to pull the trigger on a deal.
It doesn’t happen often that a big deal is pulled this late into the season, but we did see one last year. The Houston Astros acquired Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers a minute before the clock hit midnight on Aug. 31 and it ultimately was the difference between them edging out the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
Of course, the Donaldson situation is a bit different. Verlander pitched the whole year for the Tigers while Donaldson has only appeared in 36 games. The Jays have a tiny window to deal Donaldson as he’ll only be able to work his way into a few minor league games at the Single-A level and certainly won’t be back with the big league club before the deadline.
It seems a trade is probably unlikely at this point. Donaldson is an enigma right now as nobody knows what he can bring to their team down the stretch. While he does have a great track record, it’s hard to imagine a team actually ponying something up to the Jays to acquire him at this point.
With that in mind, Donaldson could re-join the team in September and audition for a qualifying offer from the team. If he does come back and kill it, it’ll be a lot easier for Toronto to validate making the $18 million investment for another year of Donaldson. Actually, if he comes back and kills it, it becomes really, really hard, from a PR standpoint, not to qualify Donaldson. Fans won’t be thrilled to watch Donaldson go for nothing in free agency if he has a strong finish to the season in September.
I have a feeling fans will be more excited about buying season tickets with Donaldson in the picture. It’s also a lot easier to keep Vlad down with Donaldson at third than Brandon Drury.