The Indians announced their plans regarding recently acquired third baseman Josh Donaldson today, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian was among those to cover (Twitter link). He’ll return to the active roster tomorrow and make his debut with his new new organization.
Donaldson, of course, has missed much of the season and only began a rehab assignment for a calf injury in late August. The Indians nevertheless struck a deal to acquire him from the Blue Jays just before the deadline to add postseason-eligible players from outside the organization. Shortly thereafter, he returned to the DL for some additional rehab work, a delicate dance that had some other organizations expressing skepticism.
The 32-year-old Donaldson is a pure rental piece for the Cleveland organization, which has already stamped its ticket to the postseason as a practical matter. In other words, the entirety of the transaction was about getting Donaldson up to full speed by the time the calendar flips to October.
As it turns out, the veteran third baseman with have an 18-game stretch of major-league playing time before he’s tasked with performing under the game’s brightest lights. The immediate plan is to put him in the lineup on Tuesday and then give him a bench spot the next game before bringing him back to the starting lineup on Friday. How things go from there remains to be seen.
Unsurprisingly, the Indians also say they’ll use Donaldson at his accustomed hot corner. That means that star Jose Ramirez will move to second base, bumping Jason Kipnis into the center field mix. The expectation, per Francona, is that this will be a permanent positional shift (at least, that is, for the remainder of the season).
It all seems to be lining up nicely for the Indians, who may well have added a superstar-level performer to their lineup at a relative pittance of a price. Of course, that assumes that the fiery veteran is able not only to stay healthy but also to return to his once-lofty performance levels, which had trended down somewhat earlier in the year. He has certainly given every sign of life possible in his brief minor-league action. In 15 rehab plate appearances, Donaldson is hitting a cool .417/.533/.917 with two dingers, three walks, and nary a strikeout.
In other news out of Cleveland, righty Trevor Bauer — another key rehabbing player — may be ready to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. (Also via Bastian, on Twitter.) That could put him on track to be ready to go by the time the postseason gets underway, in a relief role at least, but it’s still a tight window.