Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Donaldson: “They don’t want me back in Toronto. Trust Me.”

We’re just over a month into the off-season and I’m already bored to death of the daily dose of the Blue Jays are kicking tires on X pitcher without any tangible evidence of genuine interest or actual contracts being offered, so let’s go in a completely different direction today.

Josh Donaldson is a free agent right now, and, unlike last year, he’s in line for a big payday. If you had any dreams about him coming back to Toronto and there being a Bringer of Rain Revenge Tour, I’m sorry to let you know that your bubble will be burst.

Donaldson hosted an Instagram live video today in which he answered a bunch of questions from fans who tuned in. Alyssa Cohen, a savvy Blue Jays fan on Twitter who I would recommend following, caught the live session and pointed out that Donaldson said he wouldn’t be welcomed back in Toronto.

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Unfortunately, Donaldson didn’t save his live video, so you either saw it happen in the moment or you won’t ever get to see it.

I caught the last little bit of the live session after seeing Cohen’s Tweet. Donaldson was talking about how Cole Hamels had just signed in Atlanta, and he chimed in immediately by saying that he took Hamels deep in the playoffs. This, of course, was Game 2 of the 2015 ALDS. He also mentioned Rougned Odor while staring very intently into the camera.

It was a pretty wild video and it’s a shame he didn’t save it. Anyways, we’ll have to just take Cohen’s word that Donaldson did say this when it came to the question about whether he would come back to Toronto.

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This is an interesting topic because I feel like the Donaldson topic is one Blue Jays fans never really got closure over.

Despite not being much of a contender ahead of the 2018 season, the Shapiro/Atkins front office decided to gamble and keep Donaldson instead of finding a trade in the off-season. Donaldson then got injured a few months into the season and his trade value imploded. Rather than giving him a qualifying offer and a chance to rebound (or, worst-case-scenario, getting a draft pick) the front office scrambled and sent him to Cleveland for a nothing prospect.

There was no chance for a send-off. It was just over. Given how important he was to bringing Blue Jays baseball back to life in 2015 and 2016, it feels wrong that has last game as a member of the Jays came on a random day in May of 2018 that nobody remembers.

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Alex Anthopolous yet again was the beneficiary of Donaldson, as he inked his former MVP to a one-year, show-me deal last winter. Donaldson would go on to regain form, smacking 37 homers and posting a .900 OPS in Atlanta. Now Donaldson is poised to the get the payday he didn’t get after his injury-riddled 2018 season in Toronto and Cleveland.

It was always puzzling that the front office didn’t want to gamble on Donaldson. They got so little for him in return last August and his rebound seemed so inevitable that the qualifying offer really seemed like the best way to go. Of course, we have all the talk that Donaldson was difficult in the room, that there was a rift between him and management, and all of the speculation around bullying that he may or may not have been a part of, but the whole thing is weird.

Why, if the front office didn’t want him around, did they not just find a deal prior to the 2018 season? If things were that bad, why did they hang on so long? None of it really adds up. But, given what Donaldson said in his video, it does, at the very least, validate what we thought we knew about the front office wanting him out the door.

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I don’t know who’s in the right here. I don’t know if the front office was correct in their decision that Donaldson shouldn’t be around as the new wave of talent took over the clubhouse. All I know is that the Donaldson situation leaves a sour taste in virtually every Blue Jays fan’s mouth because it was so ambiguous. It seemed he wanted to be here, it seemed he could rebound, and it seemed there was a fit.

As long as Donaldson is playing well elsewhere and the Blue Jays are losing games, it’s something that’s going to frustrate fans. And, I think it’s pretty obvious that it’s something that still frustrates Donaldson himself.