In 2015, he helped vanquish the longest active postseason drought in baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, he’ll join the team trying to end the longest World Series drought in baseball at 69 years.
After much speculation, the Blue Jays pulled the trigger on a trade that was percolating for days. Donaldson has been traded to the Cleveland Indians, in exchange for a player to be named later.
The Blue Jays are also picking up a portion of his salary, as Donaldson is owed close to $4 million over the final month of the regular season.
The 32-year-old joins his former teammate Edwin Encarnacion in Cleveland, who statistically have the second-best lineup in the American League East this year (only the Red Sox have a higher team average).
It’s a bitter ending to the Bringer of Rain’s era as a Blue Jay. After missing the last three months due to a calf injury, he practically limped out of town. Now he’ll join the Tribe and fortify their formidable lineup as they prepare for their postseason push.
Coincidentally, the Blue Jays and Indians face off during a four-game set at Rogers Centre beginning next Thursday, September 6th.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays effectively turn the page by dealing one of their last key players during their magical 2015-2016 postseason drives. Now that Donaldson is gone, it leaves only a handful of holdovers from those Blue Jays rosters.
Behind the scenes, it sounds like this breakup between Donaldson and the Blue Jays was brewing for quite a while. Earlier today, Donaldson spoke with the Toronto Sun’s Rob Longley and voiced his displeasure with how the team handled his calf injury.
It's clear that the #Bluejays and Donaldson didn't see eye-to-eye on his injury and recovery. Donaldson told the Sun that during rehab "he completely ruptured his calf" and suffered further damage elsewhere on his leg.
— Rob Longley (@longleysunsport) August 31, 2018
It’s sad and unfortunate that the Donaldson era had to end this way. He was instrumental in the Blue Jays’ 2015 and 2016 seasons. He won an American League MVP award in 2015, was named an All-Star twice and won two Silver Slugger awards with the Blue Jays over four seasons.
When healthy, Donaldson played MVP-calibre baseball for the Blue Jays during his short tenure in Toronto. His health became a big question in 2018 as he missed 97 games due to a shoulder injury and then a nagging calf injury sidelined him for three months.
With Vladimir Guerrero Jr. on the horizon, the reality is that both he and Donaldson were unlikely to coexist on the same roster next year. Vlad Jr. is the building block of the Blue Jays’ next wave of talented young stars and it simply didn’t make sense to employ a former MVP and potentially a future MVP on the same team.
Even if the veteran third baseman played out the rest of the season of Toronto, it was highly unlikely he’d return anyway. This was the Blue Jays last opportunity to get something – however minute that was – in exchange for Donaldson.