December 27, 2017

Bringer of Decisions

The Future of Josh Donaldson will be a huge debate this off-season.

In over 3 seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson has been the team’s most crucial player.

111 home runs, 300 RBI, and until last season, not a day spent on the DL. Guys like him are so hard to find. He is the true definition of a “Franchise Player.”

So why is the idea of the Jays trading him even on the radar?

You can almost trace this back to the fact that Donaldson was a late bloomer. He was 26 in his first full season in the majors. Next off-season will be his first and only real opportunity for one of those insane, multi-year contracts.  He would be foolish to fain testing the waters.

Had he started his career 5 years earlier, he would have already had the big payday, and his love for an organization and a city would make it much easier to sign with his heart.  But he will be 32 when he looks for his next deal. Unlike those who break into the majors at 21, and get to become a free agent by 26, Donaldson knows this will be his one and only chance to cash in.

So what to do if you’re the Blue Jays?

Let’s safely assume Donaldson isn’t going to take a hometown discount and agree to a 3 year extension worth 25 million per season. Most players would jump at that, but Donaldson would be leaving millions of dollars and a couple of years on the table.

If money and term were no object, would you open up the vault and offer him whatever he wants? In theory you say yes, but do you want to be paying a 35 year-old over 30 million dollar a season, like the Red Sox will be doing with David Price? Not only does that make little financial sense, it’s not a smart baseball move.

The Jays already have 80 million dollars committed to Troy Tulowitzki and Russ Martin over the next 2 seasons, and also need to lock up Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez; who are both eligible for arbitration in 2018.

So where does that leave Josh Donaldson?

So far we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s very likely he files for free agency after the 2018 season, so the real options are; trade him in the off season, trade him at the deadline, or ride out the string with him and run the very high risk of losing him for nothing.

If you trade him now, his value will be at its highest. The Jays can definitely add a solid young MLB player and a couple of blue chip prospects. Would that be enough to get them back into the postseason in 2018? Again, a big risk.

If it were up to me, and thankfully I don’t get paid to make these decisions, I begin the season with him at 3rd base and make a run at the playoffs.

If they are out of it at the deadline, trade him. If he’s having a great season, a playoff team could pay big for him.

If the Jays are in the midst of a playoff run, keep him, hope you win a World Series, then let him go and hope Vlad Jr. can become a solid defensive option at third base.

None of these ideas are ideal, but it’s pretty much all they have to work with. Whichever route the front office takes, it will be met with plenty of disdain from many fans, unless they do indeed win a World Series in 2018.

So….what would you do?

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