Aug. 27: Donaldson will set out on a rehab assignment tomorrow, tweets Nightengale. The Jays could pass him through waivers within 48 hours and have time to trade him before Friday’s deadline for postseason eligibility.
Nonetheless, it seems like a long shot that a club would be convinced of Donaldson’s health to the point it’d surrender enough prospect value to outweigh the value Toronto could receive from issuing a qualifying offer at season’s end. But, if the Blue Jays themselves consider Donaldson too great a risk to receive a QO, then they every reason to shop him aggressively in the limited window with which they’ll be presented.
Aug. 26: Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson will start a rehab assignment at the Single-A level within the next 48 hours, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. This is a key development because it could help pave the way for the Blue Jays to deal Donaldson this month, as he’ll be eligible to go on revocable trade waivers when he begins his rehab stint.
Donaldson has been on the disabled list since May 29 because of a strained left calf, which has killed the Blue Jays’ chances of trading the pending free agent. However, if Donaldson shows he’s healthy during his rehab stint, the Jays may be able to make a buzzer-beating deal involving the 32-year-old before the month concludes.
Even if Donaldson looks physically fine over the next few days, there’s no guarantee Toronto will find a return to its liking, given that Donaldson’s stock has declined this season. After starring from 2013-17, including his AL MVP-winning season in 2015, Donaldson has spent most of this year on the DL and hasn’t performed nearly as well as expected when he has taken the field. All told, Donaldson has slashed an underwhelming .234/.333/.423 in 159 plate appearances.
Beyond the injury and performance issues that have defined his season, Donaldson doesn’t come with a team-friendly salary. He’s owed the balance of $23MM (around $5MM), which figures to drive down his trade value if Toronto doesn’t eat a significant portion of the money. In the event those factors combine to preclude the Jays from trading Donaldson in August, they’ll still have a chance to receive compensation for him in the offseason. They’d need to issue Donaldson a qualifying offer (worth $17.4MM last offseason), which he’d have to reject before signing elsewhere.
Whether Donaldson finishes the season in Toronto or another city, the fact that he’s seemingly on the brink of a return is an encouraging development as he nears free agency. While this has been a nightmarish year for the three-time All-Star, it appears he’ll have a chance to rebuild some of his stock over the next few weeks.