The Josh Donaldson saga continues! According to Jon Heyman, the Blue Jays did, despite some belief of the contrary, in fact offer the former MVP a contract extension.
This is interesting, of course, because Donaldson had a little bit of a spat on Twitter with Heyman over a report that indicated he was shooting for a monster payday. Heyman’s source in this story was an odd one, as he cited Donaldson’s friends suggesting he was possibly shooting too high in his ask. Anyways, the crux of this back-and-forth ultimately resulted in Donaldson saying he hadn’t yet received a contract offer from the Blue Jays.
And here we are today with a new report from Heyman that stirs a pot that hasn’t stopped boiling since Donaldson was dealt to Cleveland last week…
Contrary to some suggestions out there that they never talked numbers or made an offer, word is the Jays extended an offer for more than the three-year, $75 million deal the Phillies gave to free agent pitcher Jake Arrieta, another major star older than 30. The belief is they were flexible to go at least a bit higher.
But what really surprised Jays people — who initially heard Donaldson wanted to go to a contender — was how Donaldson didn’t seem interested in facilitating a trade after originally saying he wanted to go to a contender. It isn’t known how word got out that Donaldson didn’t want to go anywhere, but to Toronto’s detriment, it did. A couple team executives on the night of the deadline expressed the belief to Fancred that they shouldn’t give up much for Donaldson if he didn’t want to go.
There are a few things going on here. First and foremost, it appears that the Jays did, in fact, offer something to Donaldson. Obviously at the time a three-year deal worth something around the $75 million Jake Arrieta received probably seemed like a low-ball at the time given how good Donaldson was down the stretch when he was healthy. But now, given his completely-derailed season and the ultimate concern over his future, it looks like a good thing that it didn’t happen.
The other interesting note is about how Donaldson didn’t seem to want to leave. I’m having a difficult time with this one. I do believe that Donaldson wanted to stay. It goes in line with the general idea that he would have accepted the qualifying offer had the Jays opted to give it to him and what he explicitly said after last season. That said, I’m not sure I buy that Donaldson wanting to remain a Blue Jay really had that much of an impact on his value in a trade. I mean, ultimately, this guy watched his value plummet and his payday completely implode over the past few months and a big playoff run could likely go a long way in restoring some of his his value. Teams were wary because he isn’t physically at 100 per cent. To suggest teams were like “uhhh idk man” because he wanted to play for the Jays seems a little silly.
So, like I said, there are a couple things to take in here. I think it’s ultimately a good thing the Jays and Donaldson didn’t reach an extension prior to the season. I think we can all agree there. This is much like the Jose Bautista situation in which the front office avoided giving the franchise icon a massive extension and it worked out in their favour because he fell off a cliff after the 2016 season. We don’t yet know if Donaldson is going to suffer a similar fate, but I don’t think any of us would want the team to hand out three years at $75 million to Donaldson right now.
I’m not here to toss on hindsight goggles and say the Jays should have dealt Donaldson last winter. They made a calculated risk and it backfired. I, like many others, was in favour of them taking a legitimate stab at wild card contention in 2018 and Donaldson’s massive finish to the 2018 season made it seem possible. That said, given the fact Donaldson did, in fact, want to remain a Blue Jay, it continues to be aggravating that the organization didn’t believe the qualifying offer was an option. Beyond the pure emotion of wanting Donaldson around because he genuinely wanted to be here, $18 million isn’t a hell of a lot to invest in a player with the upside that Donaldson has. Again, maybe it’s just my blood boiling because a former MVP and franchise legend is stating a desire to stick around, but I have a tough time accepting Julian Merryweather being too good to pass up and Brandon Drury needing a roster spot as the reason Donaldson isn’t a Blue Jay.
I don’t know. The Donaldson situation is a messy one. It’s something we’re going to be talking about for quite some time, I think.
More fuel to this fire! According to Donaldson’s agent, there was, in fact, no extension offer.
In statement, Dan Lozano, Josh Donaldson’s agent, refutes Jon Heyman report of #BlueJays offer to JD, saying “the team never extended an offer to Josh, no years or dollars were ever specifically discussed.” pic.twitter.com/DhcQYQrQuf
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) September 6, 2018
Hmmm. That last line of the quote is certainly something. What Dan Lozano is likely referencing here is Heyman’s past relationship with Scott Boras. Heyman in the past has been criticized for being a mouthpiece for Boras. In the off-season this year, Heyman reported that the Arizona Diamondbacks were willing to give up a certain amount of cash to re-sign J.D. Martinez in what was speculated as a ploy to drive up Martinez’s ask (given that he’s a Boas client) from the Boston Red Sox. This isn’t the only instance of that happening.
But, uh, also, what else is the agent going to say? “Ha ha yeah guys I told my fuckin client with a history of calf injuries to turn down this lucrative offer and now he’s gonna cash in like one-tenth of that whoops!” I mean, really.
Now, is Heyman fabricating something here, or did he have a faulty source? What motivation would there be for doing that? I don’t know. I’m not the best at speculating this kind of thing. What I do take out of this, though, is the same as before. I imagine the Jays wanted to keep Donaldson around prior to the season but only at a modest price, I figure that offer was declined, and I’m disappointed the team wasn’t willing to take a risk on him at the very cheap one-year price.