6:23pm: Toronto is advising other organizations that it expects to trade Donaldson this evening, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter links), who adds the Indians and Astros as clubs that have recently “shown interest.”
The Braves, meanwhile, seem “unlikely” to land Donaldson, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
6:07pm: The Yankees are in on Donaldson but could only take on around half his remaining salary, Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets. MLB Network Radio’s Steve Phillips had connected the New York organization to Donaldson, via Twitter, while also listing the Cards, Phillies, and Braves as teams still engaged in discussions with Toronto.
4:58pm: Though he had been scheduled to play another rehab game tonight, Donaldson was pulled for reasons unrelated to his physical condition, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets. That seems to hint, at least, that the Jays are taking precautions in the event that an agreement is struck involving the veteran third baseman.
Meanwhile, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said this afternoon that he “would not anticipate” any deals coming together by tonight’s deadline. Of course, that doesn’t rule the team out on Donaldson or other possible targets.
12:17pm: Donaldson has indeed cleared waivers and is eligible to be traded to any team, tweets Fancred’s Jon Heyman. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets the same, adding that Donaldson is likely to be traded before midnight tonight.
10:33am: The Cardinals have interest in acquiring Josh Donaldson in advance of tonight’s postseason-eligibility deadline, reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com. Morosi adds that the chances of Donaldson being dealt to the Indians are believed to be “slim.”
It’s logical to see St. Louis emerge as a viable suitor for Donaldson, with both Jedd Gyorko and Kolten Wong currently on the disabled list. Neither injury has been characterized as a season-ender, to this point, but with the Cards holding a two-game lead on an NL Wild Card spot and trailing the division-leading Cubs by a matter of 4.5 games, every win is critical. Donaldson is far from a surefire upgrade given that he’s spent three months on the shelf due to a calf injury, though, and Morosi notes that the Cards would need to deem the Blue Jays’ asking price “sufficiently low” in order to move forward on a trade.
Donaldson has played a pair of games on a minor league rehab assignment, homering for Toronto’s Class-A Advanced affiliate yesterday, and he spoke to the Toronto Sun’s Rob Longley about his frustration with his 2018 health issues while also alluding to some frustration with the organization.
“I can’t control what the team wants to do with me,” Donaldson said, though he declined to further delve into his current relationship with the club. “…There’s a lot I can say about that, but I choose not to say anything about it right now. I don’t feel now is the time or the place. It’s one of those things that, as an athlete, I can only control what I can control.”
Donaldson was reportedly placed on revocable trade waivers Tuesday, when he was first eligible for waiver placement. (Major League rules stipulate that injured players must be healthy enough to take the field when run through revocable waivers.) It’s not known yet whether he cleared, though it seems unlikely that a team would place a claim on him when he hasn’t played in a big league game since late May and still has nearly $4MM remaining to be paid out on this season’s $23MM salary.
Donaldson’s very placement on waivers, though, is at least somewhat shrouded in mystery. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi tweets that there is “some grey” regarding whether he was actually eligible to go through waivers. Donaldson’s would-be rehab game was rained out Wednesday, but he wasn’t slated to be in the lineup that night due to reported soreness in his calf following Tuesday’s rehab appearance. Certainly, some soreness following a player’s first game action in three months could be expected, but it’s presently unclear whether that would prevent him from meeting the league’s standards as pertains to the health of player being put through the August waiver process.
If the Blue Jays aren’t able to work out a trade of Donaldson (for whatever reason), he’ll return to the club to finish out what has generally been a successful four-year tenure. Donaldson took home American League MVP honors in his first season with the Jays back in 2015 and has batted .281/.383/.548 in 2066 plate appearances since being traded to Toronto in a lopsided deal back in the 2014-15 offseason.
Should Donaldson remain on the roster into September, the Jays will have to weigh whether to issue him a qualifying offer following the year. Doing so would entitle them to draft pick compensation in the event that Donaldson rejects and sign elsewhere. But the organization also runs the risk of the third baseman accepting that one-year offer, which should be for around $18MM, which would create some roster issues for the 2019 season. Toronto is set to turn third base over to uber-prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. next season, and a return from Donaldson would complicate matters. Players who accept the qualifying offer can’t be traded before June 15 the following season without their consent, so it’s not as simple as just trading him this winter in the event that accepts a QO. The Jays could try to make things work by having Donaldson and Guerrero play multiple positions — Donaldson has had cameos at shortstop and first base for the Jays in the past, and either could serve as a DH — but there’s certainly some degree of incentive for the team to work out a trade before tonight’s midnight deadline.