Since being acquired from the Oakland Athletics in 2014, Josh Donaldson has made his presence felt north of the border. In his first year with the team, he powered his way to an American League MVP title, a Hank Aaron Award, and a Silver Slugger. The Bringer of Rain's success carried into 2016, where he finished fourth in MVP voting and earned another Silver Slugger for third base.
However, Donaldson was not the same in 2017. After being sidelined for over a month with a calf injury in early April, the slugger was playing hurt a majority of the time he was on the field. Heading into the month of August with only 11 home runs and 31 RBI, that’s when Donaldson caught fire. The third baseman lit up the league in the months of August and September with 22 home runs and 47 RBIs to finish the season hot.
Now Donaldson enters the final year of his two-year extension signed with Toronto prior to the 2016 season and that leaves the Blue Jays with a tough decision to make. We’ll explore three possible decisions the team could make regarding Donaldson.
Most likely to happen: Sign a one-year deal
The Blue Jays have made it clear that they intend to compete in 2018 and to do so, Donaldson is a key factor to their success. The 31-year-old slugger has strung together three impactful seasons during his time in Toronto.
Signing Donaldson to a one-year extension seems to be the most likely move for the Blue Jays to make. However, as keen as Donaldson is on returning, he is also looking for a multi-year deal but has made it clear that he wants to stay in Toronto.
What should happen: Sign a multi-year extension
This would be the Blue Jays' smartest move if they wish to compete in the years to come. Donaldson has been a dangerous presence at the plate for opposing pitchers throughout his career and has been the Jays' most consistent player in the past few seasons. However, Toronto's roster ranks among the oldest in the league and if they wish to get younger, the front office may be hesitant to offer him a long-term extension.
Unlikely to happen: Trade him
The most unlikely decision of all, Blue Jays CEO and President Mark Shapiro really doesn’t want to trade Josh Donaldson but it can’t be ruled out. The St. Louis Cardinals are expected to heavily pursue Donaldson via trade if they miss out on Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, especially after the Cards expressed interest in Donaldson early in the 2017 season. I also expect other teams to make a pitch to Toronto for Donaldson, who has proven himself to be one of the MLB’s most elite players.
What will probably happen
I don’t expect the Blue Jays to decide this offseason, but I expect them to hold onto Donaldson and see how 2018 unfolds and a decision will be most likely be made at the deadline.