Blue Jays: Why we’re still hearing Josh Donaldson rumours

TORONTO, ON - JULY 25: Josh Donaldson
TORONTO, ON - JULY 25: Josh Donaldson /

Despite the fact that the Blue Jays’ front office has repeatedly said they aren’t trading Josh Donaldson, rumours still persist. There are reasons for that.

We’re now nearing the end of the first week of a new calendar year, and we’re still waiting for the Blue Jays to make a significant addition to their roster for the upcoming season. Aside from a relatively minor three way trade between the White Sox-Dodgers-Royals on Thursday, another day went by without significant movement on the hot stove.

For the Blue Jays the silence continues to linger, other than another significant mention of Josh Donaldson by none other than Jon Morosi of the MLB network. Morosi re-affirmed what we’ve heard from the front office since the offseason began, that they are not interested in trading Josh Donaldson and are intent on trying to be competitive in 2018.

It’s starting to feel like a bit of a broken record, and some fans are growing frustrated with the topic coming up, over and over again. The news has been consistently good (assuming you’re in the camp that wants to hang on to Donaldson), but why don’t the rival GMs and even some of us believe the front office? I would argue there are two reasons for that, and they’re quite simple.

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First and most importantly, because the Blue Jays have done nothing of consequence this offseason other than add some middle infield depth by acquiring Aledmys Diaz. They non-tendered Ryan Goins at the same time, so it was really a replacement, albeit a potential upgrade. Other than there, there has been almost nothing (with all due respect to MiLB signings like Deck McGuire, Luis Santos, and a few more).

Without seeing a free agent or making another significant trade, the fan base is left wondering what the direction of the franchise is going to look like. We’ve heard that the front office intends to compete, but we’ve also heard things like, “I’ve said all along, if we were just running our team without fans and it was an intellectual exercise, we probably would’ve hit a reset over a year ago,” . With that sort of mixed message, forgive the fan base for remaining skeptical. What if a trade offer comes along that Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro can’t refuse for Donaldson? At this stage, they haven’t really committed to a direction for the upcoming season other than with words, so reversing course would be easy enough to do, even if it would be a tough sell to the fan base.

Until we see a significant step toward improving the team, there will remain a portion of the fan base that will question if we can trust Atkins’ words. You can say that’s unfair or however you want to view it, but it’s a legitimate question until a commitment is made with the roster.

The second piece to this whole equation is the lack of movement by basically every other team in the league. There are some teams like the Angels and Yankees who have made significant improvements, but the vast majority of the free agents are still waiting for their next contract. As frustrating as it is for Blue Jays fans to be waiting into January to see what’s going to happen, it’s largely the same case all over the league.

Until that changes as well, we’re left wondering how desperate other teams might get, and how the whole equation could change. Again, what if the Cardinals or some other team call and make a ridiculous offer for Donaldson? That seems more and more likely the closer we get to spring training. What is the Yankees make another show-stopper of a move, or the Red Sox sign J.D. Martinez and more? There were writers making arguments that the Blue Jays should throw up the white flag when Giancarlo Stanton came to New York, and it could get much worse in the division before this offseason is over.

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The longer we’re left wondering what’s going to happen with the free agent hot stove, the easier it is to wonder about possibilities that didn’t seem likely before, including the idea of trading Donaldson. For what it’s worth, I believe that the front office are going to hang on to the 2015 AL MVP and try to compete this year. However, I can’t blame anyone who doesn’t believe them at this stage, and until we get a clearer picture of what the roster will look like in a few months, that’s unlikely to change.