While it’s easy to be frustrated with Josh Donaldson for his inability to get back on the field, fans need to remember how much this season has cost him, and that he has no reason to delay getting back on the field.
So Josh Donaldson wasn’t able to play on consecutive days in his latest attempt at a rehab stint. Shocking, I know.
That’s just the kind of luck the Blue Jays have had this season, whether it’s been with blisters taking out their pitching staff (or a suitcase..), or the complete inability of a few notable veterans to get healthy and contribute to this team in 2018. The most noteworthy of course being the 2015 AL MVP, Josh Donaldson.
This was supposed to be a monster year for the “Bringer of Rain”, as it was the final season of his current contract with the Blue Jays, and the precipice of his last big contract as a big leaguer. Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro elected to keep him for one more year, knowing that he’d be motivated to perform, and that they could trade him at the deadline if the team wasn’t contending. As a free agent, there were forecasts as recently as a couple years ago that Donaldson could look for 150-200 million in the winter of 2018-19. Now? There are legitimate discussions about whether or not the Blue Jays will even extend a Qualifying Offer.
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My first reaction when I heard the news about Donaldson sitting out Wednesday was frustration at the player, but that really didn’t last long for me. As I initially had thoughts of, “C’mon man! Suck it up and get out there so you can get into a playoff race!”, or questioning his toughness altogether, I quickly remembered what’s at stake for the best third baseman in Blue Jays franchise history, and how much this hurts him personally.
Donaldson is a fierce competitor and a proudly gifted athlete, so that alone would make him incredibly frustrated with sitting on the disabled list nearly all year. But when you consider that he’s likely lost at least 100 million in free agent value with the way this year has gone, it’s hard to imagine he hasn’t been able to find the motivation to try to make it back.
When it comes to the idea of trading him to a contender, Donaldson knows that it would represent his best chance to rebuild his value before becoming a free agent, and extend the length of time he could be seen on the field if the acquiring team had a lengthy playoff run. The opportunity to perform on a big stage like that would also attract the right kind of attention, and would give GMs a chance to see that when he’s healthy he’s still an elite player. Unfortunately, I’m not sure any of that has a chance of happening now, and it’s a real shame.
Wednesday’s setback likely makes it impossible for the Blue Jays to trade him, which means he’ll either continue to work toward a short return in the final month in Toronto, or perhaps shut it down again to completely heal from his injury troubles. I would still think there would be enough incentive for him to try and play in a Blue Jays uniform again this season, but we really don’t know how much he’s still hurting, so it’s hard to say.
We do know that he’s obviously hurting enough to give up what might be his last chance at being traded this week. While that’s maddening, do your best to remember that there’s no way Donaldson is happy about the way this has all gone down, and give him the benefit of the doubt that he tried to make it back before the August trade deadline.
It’s tempting to blame Donaldson for not being able to get healthy and return to the lineup this year, but I hope Blue Jays fans feel for the guy just as much, if not a lot more. We’re all frustrated, especially the man with the most to lose.