AUGUST 30: Donaldson is in the lineup tonight, Davidi tweets.
AUGUST 29, 3:49pm: Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi tweets that Donaldson will be out of the lineup tonight for Class-A Dunedin due to soreness in his calf and legs. Obviously, that’s an unwelcome development for all parties involved.
10:24am: The Blue Jays hope to trade Josh Donaldson before the end of the month, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link). Donaldson, who just launched a rehab assignment, will reportedly go on revocable trade waivers today.
There are many factors still at play in finding a taker for the 33-year-old, as we discussed earlier this month. Getting Donaldson onto the field of play meant clearing one major hurdle, but that only kick-starts what could be a fascinating process over the next few days. Donaldson will need to be moved before the end of the month in order to be eligible to play in the postseason for an acquiring team.
Whether or not Donaldson’s hefty salary will prevent him from being claimed on waivers remains to be seen. As Rosenthal notes, teams weighing a claim will be looking at an approximately $4MM tab for a player who has been injured — and, when healthy, not quite to his typical form — for much of the season. American League organizations will get first crack, in reverse order of the standings. Among contenders, then, the Mariners and Indians are first in line.
If a claim is made, then the Toronto organization will either have to work out a deal with the claiming team, allow Donaldson to depart without compensation, or hold him with intentions of issuing a qualifying offer at season’s end. Notably, Rosenthal says that last option is not one the Jays wish to fall back on. Should Donaldson go on to accept a hypothetical QO, the organization would be staking a ~$18MM salary on his ability to return to form while also creating a roster obstacle to uber prospect Vladimir Guerrero. Should he decline and sign elsewhere, the upside would be limited to recouping a compensatory draft selection after competitive balance Round B. The likelihood of an offer being warranted and of Donaldson rejecting it would depend in no small part upon his showing over the final month of the season.
[RELATED: The New Qualifying Offer Rules]
If, on the other hand, Donaldson makes it through the wire, the Jays would be able to negotiate with any interested organizations. Of course, there would also already be a clear parameter set on his market, since all involved would know that no teams were willing to give up ~$4MM in payroll to add him. While the Toronto organization could still look to create an opportunity to effectively purchase a prospect, the quality of the potential return would be limited by the implied value the market would have assigned to the right to employ Donaldson for the final month of the season (along with the 2018 postseason).
For all involved, there are loads of fascinating considerations and possibilities at play. The Blue Jays seem to have decided to avoid playing the QO game, preferring instead to make the best of the opportunities at hand. Of course, that could presumably still change. Contending teams with interest will need to assess Donaldson’s health and ability to contribute after a long layoff. He has dealt with both shoulder and calf issues this year. On the other hand, Donaldson has also been among the very best players in baseball over the past several seasons. Donaldson’s own outlook is also at stake, as he’d no doubt prefer to be dealt. Not only would that give him an opportunity to showcase his abilities in the spotlight before reaching free agency at season’s end, but it would eliminate any possibility that he’d be saddled with a qualifying offer.
An earlier version of this post mistakenly indicated that Donaldson would be placed on waivers on Thursday, August 30th.