Blue Jays’ Donaldson records hit and walk in rehab outing

Joe Siddall and Kevin Barker discuss the Josh Donaldson situation with the Toronto Blue Jays.

BALTIMORE – The Josh Donaldson saga nearly descended into farce Tuesday when heavy rains threatened to push back the start of his rehab assignment, but the weather cleared in time to keep open the Toronto Blue Jays’ chances of trading the star third baseman.

Donaldson collected an RBI single and a walk in three trips to the plate while playing five innings on the hot corner for single-A Dunedin versus the Palm Beach Cardinals. The outing was pivotal for the Blue Jays to try and place him on revocable waivers Wednesday, the latest they can do so with enough time for him to clear ahead of the Sept. 1 roster cut-off for post-season eligibility.

The waiver process takes 48 hours and could not have been started in time had Donaldson not played, since a team must be able to verify a player’s health in order to put him on. Even with the start, Major League Baseball must still be convinced a player is healthy enough to be placed on waivers and that a team isn’t simply trying to manipulate the system.

Having a rain delay kill their final shot at getting Donaldson on waivers in time would have been more salt on the wound for the Blue Jays, who kept the 2015 AL MVP in the hopes of competing this season thinking they could still flip him ahead of the trade deadline if they didn’t, a contingency negated by his troublesome left calf injury.

Should Donaldson be placed on waivers, he’d be through the process in 48 hours after which the Blue Jays could trade him to any team if he clears, or if he’s claimed, talk trade with the winning club. If a deal isn’t consummated, the Blue Jays could pull him back or let him go for nothing.

An acquiring team would also need to add Donaldson to its major-league roster immediately. They could not add him and extend his rehab assignment.

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The Blue Jays will likely need to share the risk in any potential trade to get some value back for Donaldson, given his risk of re-injury and the fact that he hasn’t played since leaving a May 28 game at Boston with tightness in his left calf.

Assuming some or all of the roughly $4 million remaining of his $23 million salary this season is one way to do that, while taking on a conditional return is another.

Still, the upside of a healthy Donaldson is sure to entice contenders looking to push themselves over the edge or bolster their roster for the playoffs.

A trade now is probably preferable to the Blue Jays rather than having to put themselves through the qualifying offer exercise over the winter.

Extending one would allow them to receive a compensatory draft pick if Donaldson signs elsewhere, but the possibility he accepts a one-year deal of about $18 million may be one they don’t want to take as they turn over the roster.


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