Injured third baseman Josh Donaldson appears to be closing in on his Cleveland debut. If all goes well for Donaldson over the next few days, expectations are that the Indians will activate him from the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday, Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com reports. In the meantime, the plan is for Donaldson to play third at the Double-A level on Saturday and then go through a workout prior to the Indians’ series in Tampa Bay, which begins Monday.
Not only has a calf strain kept Donaldson off a major league diamond since May 28, but it has prevented him from garnering much rehab work in minor league games. He has only totaled 15 minor league plate appearances this year, three of which have come with the Indians’ Triple-A affiliate.
Because Donaldson has barely seen the field over the past three-plus months, his trade value prior to the non-waiver deadline in July and the waiver version in August significantly diminished. As a result, the Blue Jays nearly ended up retaining Donaldson through the season but ultimately dealt the former MVP (and cash considerations) right before last month’s deadline. Toronto parted with Donaldson for a player to be named later – reportedly Indians minor league right-hander Julian Merryweather – in lieu of keeping the pending free agent and issuing him a qualifying offer in the offseason.
If he’s able to avoid a setback in the coming days and return to the field for Cleveland, it’s anyone’s guess what Donaldson will provide the soon-to-be AL Central champions. The 32-year-old was a superstar-caliber player from 2013-17, but along with his injury woes this season, he has dealt with a decline in production. Donaldson has batted an unspectacular .234/.333/.423 in 2018, though that output has come over a small sample of 158 plate appearances.
The Indians are left to hope the previous version of Donaldson will reappear over the next several weeks, and if he’s healthy enough to stay in their lineup, third baseman/MVP candidate Jose Ramirez will shift to second base and second baseman Jason Kipnis will move to the outfield. And Donaldson, in addition to trying to help the Indians win a World Series, will attempt to up his stock as a trip to the open market looms.