Blue Jays, Donaldson avoid arbitration with one-year, $23M deal
The Jays and their third baseman Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration, settling at $23 million for the 2018 season, first reported by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
The Donaldson deal is a record, the previous record for an arbitration-eligible player was Bryce Harper’s $21.625 million for the 2018 season.
As first reported by Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Jays also signed second baseman Devon Travis to one year, $1.45-million deal and righthanded pitcher Aaron Sanchez, $2.7-million deal for 2018. Both Travis (right knee surgery) and Sanchez (blisters on right middle finger) spent a considerable amount of time on the disabled list last season.
Nightengale reported on Thursday that outfielder Ezequiel Carrera signed a $1.9-million deal for 2018 with the Jays, also avoiding arbitration. That will make John Gibbons happy as the Jays manager loves having Carrera as his fourth outfielder.
Left-handed reliever Aaron Loup also signed a deal worth $1,812,500. Four Jays remain unsigned and arbitration eligible: reliever Dominic Leone; closer Roberto Osuna; centre-fielder Kevin Pillar; and starting pitcher Marcus Stroman. Deadline to file arbitration numbers was 1 p.m. Friday, but deals can be agreed to before an arbitration hearing is held later this winter.
Donaldson, a the three-time all-star, becomes eligible for free agency after this season. There is speculation that if the Jays don’t sign him to a long-term deal, he may be traded this upcoming season if the club does not get off to a good start and falls out of the playoff picture. The Jays, however, have said repeatedly that they are not in a rebuild mode and want to compete for a playoff spot in 2018 and wouldn’t be able to do that without Donaldson, the 2015 American League MVP, in the lineup.
In 113 games in 2017, slugger known as The Bringer of Rain hit .270 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS.
Donaldson appeared on the MLB Network on Friday and said it’s “a compliment” that his name has been mentioned frequently during the off-season as someone who might be traded.
“I think it’s a compliment that there are other teams that feel that their team would be better with me in it. And I tend to agree with them,” Donaldson said with a smile. “The fact of the matter is, I really enjoy where I’m at right now and I enjoy being a Toronto Blue Jay and enjoy what we’ve been able to build in this organization and I’m very happy.
“I could be OK if this (Toronto) is where I spend the rest of my career, I could also be OK if they (the Jays) decided to move on,” Donaldson added that it’s not only his decision.
The Jays are still free to negotiate a long-term contract with Donaldson after avoiding arbitration.