You may not have even noticed that the Toronto Blue Jays traded former franchise cornerstone and 2015 MVP Josh Donaldson to the Cleveland Indians this week, because the whole thing barely registered. Donaldson, who was only healthy enough to play 36 games for the Jays this season, was sent away for a player to be named later because the Jays had decided that he was no longer worth the $18 million qualifying offer he’d fetch in the winter. Everyone comes out a loser here. The Jays got TBD Bupkis for an aging but recently great player that they probably should have traded last year, and Donaldson brought a quiet and moderately depressing end to what had been a brilliant run in Toronto. Adding to the general bummer of it all is the fact that, according to Fancred’s Jon Heyman, Donaldson turned down a decent payday that would have kept him a Blue Jay for a few more years.
Here’s how Heyman says things went down:
Contrary to some suggestions out there that they never talked numbers or made an offer, word is the Jays extended an offer for more than the three-year, $75 million deal the Phillies gave to free agent pitcher Jake Arrieta, another major star older than 30. The belief is they were flexible to go at least a bit higher. Charlie Blackmon, yet another star on the wrong side of 30 (but without the superstar pedigree of Donaldson) late this winter agreed to a five-year, $94 million extension that took his total deal to $108 million, and the belief is that the Jays, understanding Donaldson’s annual salary would have had to be higher but more focused on total dollars, might have reached close to that region had talks continued.
Donaldson’s agent, Dan Lozano, says no such offer was ever made:
There are a few ways to read this. One is that Heyman got some bad info, which, sure, that’s possible. Another is that Lozano doesn’t want it out there that he’s the kind of agent who lets aging superstar clients turn down fairly lucrative extensions late in their careers, and so is playing a little fast and loose while trying to prevent himself from earning that sort of reputation. “No years or dollars were ever specifically discussed” doesn’t necessarily mean that contract discussions weren’t taking place, after all, or even that Lozano and Donaldson didn’t have some idea about a range of dollars or years that could be on the table. Or, again, Heyman could just be totally wrong here and allowing himself to be used as a management stooge. The only way to settle this is for him and Lozano to meet in the octagon.