Blue Jays exchanging arbitration numbers with Josh Donaldson


Friday was the final day that players and teams could exchange numbers for pending arbitration cases and like many teams, the Toronto Blue Jays had a few open cases still to settle prior to the 1:00pm deadline. With Brett Cecil having agreed to a one-year deal on Thursday, and Marco Estrada and Michael Saunders earlier today, the Blue Jays were still awaiting similar arrangements with Danny Valencia and of course Josh Donaldson.

Unfortunately, that deadline passed without a deal in hand for Josh Donaldson, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

Donaldson had a $4.5 million projection from MLB Trade Rumors, as he was eligible for the first time as a Super-2 player, and that reprented a sizable increase from the $500,000 Josh Donaldson made as a member of the Oakland Athletics in 2014. Donaldson will remain a unique file and trial case for the Toronto Blue Jays for the next several years.

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During his first two full seasons, Donaldson has been a monster, both at the plate and in the field. from 2013 to 2014, Donaldson has hit .277/.363/.477 with 53 home runs, 191 RBI, a wOBA of .352, and wRC+ of 127. Additionally,he’s rated 12.1 on the UZR/150 scale, put up 35 defensive runs saved, and a Plus/Minus Runs Saved of 29 over the last two seasons.

That production has helped Josh Donaldson rank third in all of baseball in WAR (FanGraphs) with a rating of 14.1 Wins Above Replacement, trailing only Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout in that regard. Donaldson has also finished 4th and 8th in the American League MVP voting in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

That all said, it may not be entirely bad news that the team has been unable to reach an agreement with Donaldson on a one-year deal. There may be another possibility as Davidi also notes.

While it would be seemingly unlikely in his first year of abritration, the Blue Jays may be attempting to negotiate a long-term extension with Donaldson that would buy out his arbitration years and replace them with long-term security. It would be unlikely as the Blue Jays would prefer to save the money upfront this year and financially Donaldson could be in line for significantly higher increases over the next two arbitration dates before hitting free agency after the 2018 season.

Another alternative could be that the Blue Jays look for a two-year settlement, hoping to divert some funds from this year to next. This would free up some payroll, albeit likely a small amount. That also remains unlikely as it benefits Donaldson very little in the near term, given the minuscule projection that he would have qualified for.

The Blue Jays acquired Josh Donaldson from the Oakland Athletics on November 28th, sending a package to Oakland that included third baseman Brett Lawrie, and prospects Franklin Barreto (SS), Kendall Graveman (RHP), and Sean Nolin (LHP).