Donaldson, 32, hit the DL back on April 10 due to a shoulder issue that was impacting his ability to throw across the diamond. He played third base in a pair of minor league rehab games, however, and obviously showed well enough there that the Toronto organization felt comfortable bringing the 2015 AL MVP back to the big league roster for what figures to be regular work at his customary position.
Donaldson opened the season with a .239/.352/.457 slash and three homers through 55 plate appearances, and early reports indicated that the shoulder wasn’t really hampering his ability to swing the bat. He’ll look to improve upon that early pace as he aims to match the outrageous .302/.410/.698 line that he posted over his final 227 plate appearances last season, when he finished out the year as one of the hottest hitters in the game.
The manner in which Donaldson acquits himself both at the hot corner and at the plate will be critical, as he’s on the cusp of reaching free agency for the first time. If Donaldson can produce at anywhere near the torrid .285/.387/.559 clip he posted through his first three seasons in Toronto and handle throwing from third to first without issue, then April’s dead arm will likely be viewed as a mere blip on the radar.
A healthy Donaldson would have an easy case for a nine-figure deal even though he’ll play the 2019 season at age 33. If the shoulder troubles prove to be an ongoing issue throughout the ’18 season, however, there’s obvious potential for them to severely impact his earning power on the open market. Donaldson ranked fourth on the first edition of MLBTR’s monthly Free Agent Power Rankings, trailing only Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Clayton Kershaw.