Blue Jays: Twitter feud could help perception of the franchise

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

As the drama continues around Josh Donaldson, his agent, and Jon Heyman, the situation has only looked better for the Blue Jays as this has dragged on.

It’s been a few weeks now since the Blue Jays traded Josh Donaldson to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later (who we now know is Julian Merryweather). While some of the anger has subsided a bit for Blue Jays fans, the situation continues to fester outside of the organization, and it might be to Toronto’s benefit.

After a major trade like the one that sent Donaldson to Cleveland, it’s natural for baseball analysts to dig into the story, give their opinions, and ultimately see if there was more to what happened than what we’re initially told. A good journalist does this all the time, and it appears that’s exactly what Jon Heyman of Fancred has been up to lately.

Heyman and Donaldson famously scrapped on Twitter in the past after the former made some claims about Donaldson’s intensions for his future, citing his “friends” as the source. Donaldson took exception to the report, and fired back at the writer over the public forum back in February. Heyman partially apologized back then, but didn’t exactly back down from his claims.

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That wasn’t the end of the spat between the writer and the player though, as things have fired up considerably since Donaldson was dealt to Cleveland. Heyman reported that there were contract discussions in Toronto and an offer of some kind on the table between the two parties last offseason, something that was once again refuted by Donaldson’s people.

In fact, Donaldson’s agent Dan Lozano went as far as to make a public statement denying Heyman’s claims, and calling out the character and integrity of the writer in the media. Lozano claimed that, “the fact is that the team never extended an offer to Josh, no years or dollars were ever specifically discussed….”. If you didn’t see the statement on social media over the last few days, check out the tweet below from Sportnet’s Shi Davidhi.

It wasn’t a very good look for Heyman despite his long history in baseball journalism. However, he wasn’t about to back down on what he had reported either, and fired back at Donaldson’s agent on Thursday with several tweets and an article at What was already a very interesting case suddenly had another delicious layer.

Heyman contends for a variety of reasons that there were figures and years exchanged between the two sides, and his article is worth checking out if you’re interested. Whether or not he’s correct in his assertions really doesn’t matter for the Blue Jays though, as long as he’s not completely discredited or anything, which I don’t believe will be the case.

The drama that’s going on here is a wonderful distraction for the Blue Jays front office, something they could use with the rumours that are swirling around Mark Shapiro, and some reported interest in his services from the Mets. This spat really doesn’t have a lot to do with the Blue Jays at this stage, except for their involvement in what went down of course. However, their front office hasn’t had to make any statement through any of this, as it’s been almost exclusively between Heyman, Lozano, and Donaldson. I mean, Heyman even goes as far as to call Lozano’s report “fake news”, and has this tasty little nugget to offer in his article:

"“As for Lozano, his relationship with facts was well documented in the Deadspin article that recounted how he pretended to be a USC graduate when he never did graduate, how he suggested he starred in baseball there when there is no record of that and even how he pretended to be Italian to impress certain clients (he is not Italian).”"

Heyman has given the Blue Jays a better look through this back and forth, as it has been well argued that the club likely had discussions with their former MVP about retaining him. His exit from Toronto wasn’t a great look, and by the way that his agent wants to paint the picture, it would do some damage for potential free agents who might deal with Shapiro and Atkins down the road. These disputed reports between Donaldson’s side and Heyman at least offer some positive optics for a front office that badly bungled his exit, if for no other reason than they didn’t get much of a return for a star player while they were on the cusp of a rebuild.

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While we may never know exactly what went down, Jon Heyman has done a lot of good for the Blue Jays organization lately, which is a definite plus since he’s not employed by them. That said, I have to respect a reporter that seeks to identify the truth, and one who is willing to apologize when he’s made an error as well. His position on this development definitely hasn’t hurt the Blue Jays one little bit.