Ever since being traded away from the Oakland Athletics in inarguably the worst trade of Billy Beane’s career, Josh Donaldson has personified a new era of Blue Jays baseball. Granted, the shift towards true competitiveness only really came after Troy Tulowitzki was acquired from Colorado and Marcus Stroman was called up and delivered his youthful exuberance. However, none of those players have truly represented Canada’s only baseball team over the past few years like their third baseman, and he has an MVP trophy to prove it.
Amidst the turbulence that is the Jays’ current campaign, Josh Donaldson’s name has been a consistent presence on the sports media rumor tracker as a logical trade candidate for the ailing Blue Jays. A player with team control of this caliber does not become available every year, and Donaldson could represent a perfect opportunity for the Blue Jays to rebuild towards a future centered around young minor league phenoms Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Some destinations mentioned by baseball media include the Yankees and Red Sox, whose presence as clear, bitter rivals to Toronto will lead Jays fans everywhere to cringe at even the thought. However, even if his new home falls within the confines of the division, I truly believe that it is time for Jays fans to unite in agreement of a rebuild, and move on.
Just up the road in downtown Toronto, the Jays can look to the Leafs as an example of the patience the Toronto faithful can have for a rebuild that is done right. With an eye towards the future, Leafs management tore down the work done by the old regime and started anew, marching forward beginning with the 2016 draft and never looking back. The Jays, in all honesty, do not have the same level of casual fandom that the Leafs do amongst the Toronto faithful, leading one to assume that the level of devastation that the Jays will feel from their fan base will be even lower. In addition, the Jays, unlike the former downtrodden Maple Leafs, have a wealth of MLB-caliber assets to deal while jump starting a rebuild, starting with their MVP.
Josh Donaldson represents a logical fit, in my opinion, with the Boston Red Sox, where the hole at third base left by the Pablo Sandoval disaster cannot be ignored in a playoff push for John Farrell’s squad. Yes, Eduardo Nunez was just acquired, but it is clear that the Red Sox’ place atop the division is well within reach for their powerhouse division arch-rival in New York, lead by the radioactive superhuman that is Aaron Judge. As such, it is not the time for a relative stopgap at the hot corner, or even experimenting with top prospect Rafael Devers. For the Red Sox, in order to compete with the truly dynamic teams within the A.L. like the Astros and Indians, not to mention the Yankees, they will need a presence like Donaldson’s to put them over the top. With a wealth of talent in their minor leagues, the Red Sox could offer the Jays a package centering around top pitching prospect Jason Groome, who many referred to as the top arm in his draft class despite falling to the Red Sox at the 12th pick due to signability concerns. Additional prospect depth will have to follow from the Red Sox end, as Donaldson figures to be one of the most sought after, and therefore pricy, commodities available on the trade market. With the Jays desperate need for prospect depth, especially at pitcher, this trade makes perfect sense for all involved. Despite the obvious pain and difficulty that will come from dealing one of the most beloved athletes in recent Toronto history, sports is business. And unfortunately, this business decision is one that the Jays must make if they are to see the bright lights of October baseball once again in the near future.