The Toronto Blue Jays continued their fire-sale/rebuilding process Friday by trading Josh Donaldson to the Cleveland Indians for a player to be named later.
Donaldson, suffering from a calf injury, hadn’t played since May and had just returned last Tuesday night for a rehab game with the Single-A team, Dunedin. With that, the Jays were able to place Donaldson on waivers and trade him by Friday — which was the deadline for players to be dealt and still be eligible to play in the post-season (and seeing that he landed in Cleveland, there is almost definitely going to be post-season play for him this year).
Donaldson was a fan favorite and letting him go for nothing more than a player to be named later is obviously not sitting well with many Torontonians who feel the 2015 AL MVP could have— and should have—been a piece to build a better return.
But, according to Yahoo Sports, Jays GM Ross Atkins defended the move in a conference call on Saturday, saying:
“Josh is an incredible player and will continue to be a great player ... As we weighed our alternatives, it just came down to us feeling this was the best (move) for us in the moment… I think every decision we make, we weigh the potential risk and upside and decided ultimately this was the best thing for the organization as we considered our alternatives with Josh. We feel very good about the return. Ultimately, we felt it was the best decision for our future.”
Another aspect of all this that isn’t sitting well with fans is Atkins’ employment history. Atkins, as well as Jays President, both came to the Blue Jays via the Cleveland organization — which obviously isn’t great optics and has conspiracy theorists chomping at the bit. But Atkins insists, when asked directly about those optics, that the Jays were in real talks with four teams and that the Cleveland deal gave them the best return.
As for that player to be named later. Atkins didn't provide any names but did say that the player has already been agreed to by both teams: "What I can tell you is that we're excited about the return. It's a near-term prospect we feel can impact our major-league team in a significant way."
With the trade, Donaldson becomes yet another key member of the 2015 and 2016 Blue Jays who took the team back to the playoffs after a 22-year drought. Last November, the team released Jose Bautista to free agency and the year before—after the playoff run of 2016—Edwin Encarnacion left and signed with the Indians where he and Donaldson will now be reunited.
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