By Cole Parkinson
We all knew it was coming, and honestly, it’s probably for the better at this point.
Over the weekend as the Major League Baseball waiver trade deadline approached, the Toronto Blue Jays traded the former American League MVP Josh Donaldson to Cleveland for a player to be named later.
Of course, the deal had to come before midnight on August 31 in order for JD to be eligible for this year’s postseason and with the way things have shaped out for both the Blue Jays and Donaldson this year, it came as no surprise that both sides were eager to move on after the down year both were facing.
The Blue Jays are in a projected lengthy rebuild and Donaldson is in win-now mode as he’s in his thirties, so a trade to Cleveland will give him a shot this year at a World Series ring and he gets to join former Blue Jay Edwin Encarnacion.
After this season he will become a free agent and will no doubt garner less than what he would have a few years ago, though he will get a chance to prove himself in the last few weeks and into the playoffs, once he returns from the disabled list that is.
Winning the AL MVP in 2015 right after being traded from the Oakland Athletics for Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman, Sean Nolin and Franklin Barreto, Donaldson will no doubt be considered one of the best players to ever suit up for the Blue Jays.
And further to that, that trade may go down as one of the best trades for the Blue Jays.
His 2015 season was the best I’ve ever seen a Blue Jays player play and it may be that way for some time, though my fingers are crossed for Vlad Jr. when he no doubt reaches the major leagues.
That season, Donaldson hit for a .297 average, hit 41 home runs, cashed in 123 RBI and had an 8.5 wins above replacement which was good enough to beat out the best player in the game, Mike Trout, for the MVP award.
Over his first three years, he was a perennial all-star but this year he was derailed by injuries as he was to begin the 2017 season.
Many Jays fans are sour and pointing to the management staff as the return for JD could have been more flashy, especially since they could have done it last offseason when it was apparent the Blue Jays were not going to be contenders.
Alas, they tried to cobble a competitive team contender and it has backfired quite handily as the pitching staff have struggled, which many figured would be the backbone of this Blue Jays team.
The trade will no doubt provide quite a bit of water cooler talk for the rest of the season as the player to be named doesn’t have to be revealed until January of next year as he is currently on Cleveland’s 40 man roster, though there are rumours that it will be 26-year-old right-hander Julian Merryweather.
Hard to believe JD would only fetch a player to be named later three years ago but baseball has shown through free agency and trade in the past few years that older players see a significant drop off in interest.
It will be interesting to see how much interest there will be in Donaldson come free agency especially after last year’s free agency where guys in their thirties were struggling to find contracts.
The injuries he has battled also will probably keep teams out of talks but there is no doubt someone will be willing to take a flyer on him.
Either way, I think looking back at JD’s time with the Jays will be more than positive for Jays fans, especially those like myself who had never seen the Blue Jays make the playoffs.
He was a massive part of teams that saw back to back American League Championship Series appearances and he was a large reason for their success in both the regular season and the postseason.
It really is too bad the relationship between management and Donaldson soured in the recent months.
Donaldson no doubt wanted to get back on the field as he was due for free agency in the winter but the calf injury was persistent.
I wish nothing but the best for Donaldson and if Cleveland should happen to see themselves in the World Series this year, I’ll be cheering for them as will a ton of Blue Jays fans.
On another note, the Blue Jays also unloaded Curtis Granderson to the Milwaukee Brewers for prospect Demi Orimoloye.
Granderson was a veteran through and through during his time with Toronto and will no doubt be missed as he departs to the Brewers.
But with the Jays already backlogged with outfielders and more to come with further September callups, Granderson was already relegated to bench work.
Shipping him off gives him a shot in the playoffs and from what I’ve seen online, Blue Jays fans wish nothing but the best for Granderson which is well due.
We’re now at the point of the year where Toronto games are far from essential but if you’re a baseball fan, there are tons of races to watch.