TORONTO – Josh Donaldson established a single-season payout record for arbitration-eligible players by settling on a $23-million, one-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday to avoid a potential hearing.
The superstar third baseman surpassed Bryce Harper’s previous mark of $21.625 million and earned himself a $6 million raise over the $17 million he received in 2017.
That was part of a $28.65-million, two-year deal agreed to in February 2016 that avoided arbitration after Donaldson and the Blue Jays were only $450,000 apart upon exchanging figures. As a file-and-trial team, the only way to avoid a hearing once the sides trade numbers is a multi-year agreement.
Stroman could end up in a hearing room for the second straight year after being awarded $3.4 million over the club’s $3.1 million by an arbitrator last spring. Osuna is in his first year of eligibility.
The Blue Jays did avoid arbitration with Kevin Pillar ($3.25 million), Aaron Sanchez ($2.7 million), Ezequiel Carrera ($1.9 million), Aaron Loup ($1,812,500), Devon Travis ($1.45 million) and Dominic Leone ($1.085 million).
The strong number for Sanchez comes after he missed the majority of the 2017 season with blister issues on his right middle finger and related complications. It also undoes some of the damage done last spring, when the Blue Jays renewed the right-hander at the major-league minimum after he turned down a small raise coming off leading the American League in ERA in 2016.
Avoiding a hearing room ensures no damage to the Blue Jays’ relationship with Donaldson, especially with him eligible for free agency in the fall. He went to a hearing with the Blue Jays in 2015, when an arbitrator selected the club’s offer of $4.3 million rather than the player’s ask of $5.75 million.
With the pressure off, Donaldson’s $23 million salary could serve as a potential jumping off point for talks on a longer-term deal in the spring, or simply set him up to test the market in the fall.