John McDonald is a name familiar to many Jays fans, as a super-utility player who would play with heart and emotion. But one claim to fame he has that may come as a surprise to some people, is that he was essentially traded for himself in two trades between Detroit and Toronto.
This isn’t a usual Trade History post, where I would talk about one major Blue Jays trade, and break down the players involved. This is going to be a kind of “Special Edition”. This wasn’t a major trade or even just a single trade, but it’s an interesting situation, that I think has to be talked about in any Jays trade history series.
This is what the two trades looked like:
July 22, 2005
To Toronto: Player to be named later (Cash Considerations)
To Detroit: John McDonald, UTL
November 10, 2005
To Toronto: John McDonald, UTL
To Detroit: Cash Considerations
As you can see, John McDonald essentially became the PTBNL that Toronto was owed in the first trade. The Tigers didn’t give the Jays any other player in the deal, so Johnny Mac was the only player involved in the two deals. With McDonald being the only player in the deals, the cash cancels each other out, and McDonald was traded for himself. The cash was really just used so they could make a trade.
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Before his Jays career, McDonald played with Cleveland for six years accumulating 0.5 WAR by hitting .231 with four home runs and 33 RBIs in 285 games. He was then traded to Toronto for Tom Mastny.
From there, he was sent to the Tigers, and then back to the Jays, in the trades mentioned above.
While he played in a utility role with Toronto, he had a couple memorable moments. In July 2010, he derailed Justin Morneau‘s career. Morneau was sliding into second base when his head struck McDonald’s knee. This caused Morneau to have a concussion. The three seasons before the concussion he had 12.4 WAR, with 71 home runs and 285 RBIs with three straight all-star berths. In the three years after, he had 2.0 WAR with 40 home runs and 184 RBIs, with no all-star berths. He had a redeeming year in 2014 when he had a league-leading .319 batting average, but he hasn’t been close to that level since.
Another memorable moment came in a game in June of 2010. McDonald’s father had passed away just before Father’s Day, and McDonald was put on the bereavement list. McDonald’s father had told him before his death to hit a home run for him. In his first game back, on Father’s Day, McDonald, who isn’t a power hitter AT ALL, hit one into the bullpen for his dad. It’s a moment that doesn’t leave a dry eye in the room while watching.
McDonald played for Toronto for seven years from 2006-2010. He was then traded to Arizona with Aaron Hill for Kelly Johnson. From there, he played for four teams in 2013, bouncing around from Pittsburgh, to Cleveland, to Philadelphia, and then to Boston. He finished his career with the Angels in 2014.
While it’s hard to judge a winner in this trade, I think we, the fans, are the real winners for getting to watch McDonald play hard every time he went out on the field. I’ll leave you with the interview he gave after his Father’s Day homer.