Josh Donaldson is the Toronto Blue Jays’ best player, and on Friday he got paid like it.
Multiple reports confirm that Donaldson has signed a one-year contract worth $23 million to remain with the team.
#BlueJays and Josh Donaldson avoid arbitration, settle at $23 million, per source.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) January 12, 2018
The deal breaks an MLB record for the largest annual salary for an arbitration-eligible player – surpassing the $21.625 million contract Bryce Harper signed with Washington.
Largest annual salary to an arbitration-eligible player: MLB history#BlueJays Josh Donaldson (2018) $23M
Bryce Harper (2018) $21.625M
David Price (2015) $19.75M
Nolan Arenado (2018) $17.75M
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 12, 2018
Donaldson and the team had until the 1 pm ET deadline to reach a deal before arbitration rules began to take place. The deal pushes the Pensacola, Florida native above Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin as the highest-paid players on the Blue Jays.
The #BlueJays now have $100 million committed to their six highest-paid players in 2018.
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) January 12, 2018
The 2015 AL MVP had a slow start to last season – in part due to injuries – but rebounded nicely down the stretch. Donaldson finished the year with a .270 batting average, 33 home runs, 78 RBIs, and a .385 on-base percentage.
Given that it’s expected to be a rough year for the Blue Jays, who need to get younger, there had been rumblings about Toronto trading the 32-year-old. The St Louis Cardinals are reportedly interested in his services, but GM Ross Atkins has been reluctant to trigger a full-scale rebuild.
In other news, the Jays have announced that they have also avoided arbitration with outfielder Ezequiel Carrera ($1.9 million) and pitcher Aaron Loup ($1.8125 million). They’ve also reportedly avoided arbitration with second baseman Devon Travis ($1.45 million).