Blue Jays’ divorce from Donaldson getting uglier by the minute

Shi Davidi joined Evanka Osmak and Donnovan Bennett to discuss the latest development in the Josh Donaldson situation, as the Blue Jays explore options to find a way to part ways with the former MVP.

BALTIMORE – Josh Donaldson’s rehab assignment and the Toronto Blue Jays’ attempts to trade him devolved into farce Wednesday, when sore calves and legs were to prevent the star third baseman from playing a game eventually postponed by rain, confusing his status in baseball’s opaque revocable waiver rules.

Whether he can still be dealt before the Sept. 1 roster cut-off for post-season eligibility or if the Blue Jays will have to pull him back from the waiver wire wasn’t immediately clear.

The criteria for him to be eligible for the 48-hour process is as follows:
• The minimum period for inactivity on the disabled list has passed;
• A team can certify that a player can come off the DL and perform to accustomed levels;
• An acquiring team evaluates and agrees with that assessment.

The middle piece is certainly open to interpretation, and Major League Baseball, through its baseball operations department in consultation with medical director Dr. Gary Green, essentially has final say on the outcome.

Do they want to see him traded, provided an acquiring team is still willing to take the risk?

There’s a case to be made that Donaldson can’t satisfy the second criteria until he’s activated off the DL, while on the flip side, an argument can be made that some soreness the day after a player’s first game action since May 28 is to be expected.

Intriguing will be whether Donaldson – who played five innings for single-A Dunedin on Tuesday, going 1-for-2 with a walk and two defensive plays in the field – is ready to play in either end of a doubleheader scheduled for Thursday.

Really, though, pause and consider how absurd all this is.

The Blue Jays, justifiably, went into the 2018 season hoping to ride a resurgent Donaldson into contention, believing that if things went sideways, as they did, they could still extract value from him ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

Instead, shoulder troubles during the spring forced him to the disabled list April 11 and cost him 18 games, while his calf troubles, which first surfaced during the spring, flared up as he ran the bases May 28 at Boston.

He’s been on the disabled list since, preventing a deal before July 31 and forcing the Blue Jays to scramble in an attempt to get pennies on the dollar before Sept. 1.

Severe thunderstorms nearly killed the whole endeavour Tuesday but the game was played after a 90-minute delay, with Wednesday the deadline to get him on revocable waivers with enough time to trade him Aug. 31.

Now this.

Lost in the drama is a bigger picture in which the sides are heading for a divorce getting uglier by the minute, the Blue Jays trying desperately to get whatever they can for a player pivotal in the 2015-16 resurgence, the 2015 AL MVP struggling to simply get healthy enough to play.

Clearly the sides are now on divergent paths.

As ridiculous as it feels to ask this question, given where the Blue Jays are headed, does Donaldson even fit their situation moving forward?

In recent weeks, they’ve started auditioning younger players around the diamond and having Donaldson return in September if he’s not traded, while beneficial to the overall product, will take reps away from other infielders.

He also happens to play the same position as Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the crown jewel of the farm system who won’t be recalled until late next April so the club can push back his free agency by a year.

Given all that, the Blue Jays have little incentive to extend him a qualifying offer that will be around $18 million and risk that he accepts it. Should things indeed play out that way, they wouldn’t receive a compensatory draft pick when he signs elsewhere.

Donaldson, meanwhile, still projects as an elite-level performer and makes plenty of sense for a contending club in need of an impact player, although it would make sense that he would want to feel confident about his health first. While time and again he’s made clear how much he likes Toronto and would ideally remain with the Blue Jays, that window may be closed.

Another forced month together would only make the coming split all the more uncomfortable.

All that now rests on how MLB’s baseball operations department interprets a set of criteria left vague enough that it can be interpreted in a number of different ways. They probably should clean that up for scenarios just as bizarre as this one.

And, as if you’re not confused enough, there’s this: Carl Crawford was very injured when the Boston Red Sox dumped him and others on the Los Angeles Dodgers in a blockbuster deal completed Aug. 25, 2012.

Oh, so much murk, dimming a player whose star once shined so brightly for the Blue Jays.


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