Blue Jays rumours: Club working to extend Josh Donaldson


The Toronto Blue Jays and American League MVP Josh Donaldson are reportedly discussing a multi-year deal ahead of his February 15th arbitration hearing

Josh Donaldson and the Blue Jays are headed for an arbitration hearing in ten days. That is, if there isn’t some news beforehand.

General manager Ross Atkins spoke on Donaldson at Thursday’s ‘Leadoff’ event in Toronto and was surprisingly open with the club’s intentions. Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet has the full story on the evening here.

“Ultimately, now the focus is on Josh Donaldson,” Atkins told the media. “There’s a case that’s occurring right now, as we speak, on another player. We are really focused on coming to terms with Josh and we’re going to do everything we can to make that work and try to avoid a hearing.”

That other player would be pitcher Jesse Chavez, whose arbitration result should be released soon.

Atkins added that he wanted Donaldson to be a Blue Jay “as long as humanly possible”, and extending players throughout their back-end arbitration years is not a foreign practice for Atkins and president Mark Shapiro stretching back to their Cleveland days.

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“My discussions with Josh have been great. He’s an unbelievable talent, he’s an unbelievable player, he’s a great person, and we could not be happier that he’s here. We’re going to work towards a multi-year deal and hope that we get the best result there.”

Donaldson’s career arc aligns at some level with those of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, both of whom are looking at expiring contracts entering 2016.

The three Toronto stars are late-bloomers in their careers, not fully hitting their stride until their late-20s. While some believe this has left them with more tread on the tire for their 30s, all three would be wise to maximize their value in what may be their one big chance at longterm financial stability.

Donaldson’s 2015 resume makes this a rich and complicated negotiation, obviously, and the great deal of variables involved still don’t make a longterm extension a likely outcome. Especially given the comfortable arbitration numbers that Toronto can fall back on.

Whether or not there’s traction, though, the organization’s wheels appear to be turning. In not being satisfied to simply accept the arbitration case, Toronto’s next ten days could become far more interesting than we’d expected.