Blue Jays and the Donaldson Domino Effect

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 31: Josh Donaldson
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 31: Josh Donaldson /

The question of whether to trade Josh Donaldson may be dependent on how other dominoes fall this offseason.

There has been considerable debate about Josh Donaldson‘s future with the Blue Jays.  Not only the question of what the Jays should do – trade him, extend him, or just wait until the trade deadline – but also the question of when this all should take place.

Perhaps the reason the Jays are reported to have not started serious extension talks with Josh is more about the when than the if?

The Otanelephant on the table

The Jays believe themselves to be serious contenders for Shohei Ohtani this offseason.  But just about every MLB team will be trying to entice Ohtani, so the Jays will have to convince him that Toronto is his best fit.  A large part of that will be selling the Jays as a serious playoff contender, in 2018 and beyond.  Beyond may be easy – the Jays are the only team with three prospects on the first-team all-minors 2017 All-Star team – but keeping Donaldson on the team could be critical for the Jays to compete in 2018.  So trading Josh before Ohtani makes his choice could well take Toronto out of the running.

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The solution?  Wait for Ohtani before making a decision on Josh Donaldson.

The Stanton chimera

The Jays are rumoured to have bought at least a single ticket in the Giancarlo Stanton Sweepstakes.  Stanton could be the power, middle-of-the-order bat (and above-average defensive outfielder) that the Jays need,  If the Jays did succeed in trading for Stanton, it might increase their chances of signing Ohtani, and it might make it difficult to afford a Josh Donaldson extension.   But even if they do not, Stanton’s destination could affect the suitors for Donaldson, particularly if Stanton goes to one of their rivals.  This could potentially make those trade partners  more desperate (and make their offers all the more enticing).

The solution?  Wait for Stanton before making a decision on Josh.

The free agent and trade zoo

The Jays have acknowledged that they have holes to fill this offseason.  The impact arm and bat, the infield help, not to mention the bullpen and back-up catcher – the Jays’ success in filling these needs will have a large impact on their optimism for 2018.  If they find quality options, then 2018 starts to look promising and Josh Donaldson could be the difference between baseball or golf in October.  But if they do not – if their priority targets are gobbled up by other teams, and they are unable to swing the trades they hope for – then Toronto may well choose to re-assess their plans for 2018 and for their former MVP third baseman.

The solution?  Wait to see how the free agent / trade markets shake out before deciding on Donaldson.

Next: Jays in on the early Jake Arrieta discussions

The bottom line

A great modern philosopher once said (seriously!) that making a decision too early was often a mistake.  Waiting allows uncertainties to crystallize, and options to become more clear.  In the case of the Jays and Josh Donaldson, timing is everything – and now is probably not the time.