Josh Donaldson was a midseason trade candidate before the season started. Injuries deprived Toronto of a significant haul for the face of their franchise, but the All-Star third baseman is back in action and could yet move in August.
The Blue Jays have retooled in the last year or two without blowing up the roster. J.A. Happ was the only big name to be shipped out at the trade deadline, for instance. It’s more of waiting game for the sole Canadian-based franchise in MLB until Vladimir Guerrero jr. and Bo Bichette are ready.
Toronto might not even bother trading Donaldson at this juncture. They are unlikely to receive anything of note, opting to give Rogers Centre another month or so of their star man before he hits free agency might be tempting for an ownership who are unlikely to provide their fan base with a genuine contender until 2020.
If they do choose to move him, though, the third baseman could play a significant role down the stretch. The waiver order is obviously crucial. The American League would get the first chance on Donaldson, with the Mariners the first genuine contending team who could make a claim. The Athletics would follow the Mariners as it stands.
Another team could claim Donaldson before he gets that far, of course, but there’s not much reason for them to. The Cardinals or Pirates would be tempted if they can decrease the deficit in the National League Central and he miraculously passes all AL teams.
The Athletics, who are flying right now, don’t really have a hole for Donaldson unless they plan on putting Khris Davis in the outfield regularly. Mat Olson and Matt Chapman have the corner spots for the foreseeable future. As much as it might be fun for Donaldson to return to the bay, it’s a longshot at best.
Seattle could claim Donaldson ahead of Oakland, and it would be very Jerry Dipoto to try and get a deal done if they had the chance. Their production from the corners hasn’t been good, but then there’s the injury issue. We don’t know how healthy Donaldson will be when he comes back. With Nelson Cruz occupying DH, Donaldson would need to play the field almost every day. That might be a big ask for a 32-year-old coming off an injury-riddled season.
A Donaldson deal, as exciting as it would be in the August grind, looks improbable. The Yankees have the greatest need, but there’s almost no chance the AL West teams let Donaldson fall that far.
It looks likely that Toronto lose their star man for nothing. He could yet re-sign, or even take a qualifying offer given how 2018 has gone, but the Blue Jays’ front office have been unlucky with Donaldson’s injuries to not get any prospects before he hits free agency this winter.