Josh Donaldson is still a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, for now.
The third baseman, who has been plagued with a calf injury and dead arm this season, is nearing a return to the major leagues after an extensive rehab process, giving the Blue Jays hope they can still place him on trade waivers before it's too late, reports Jon Heyman of Fancred.
Donaldson has been sidelined since May 29, and will be a free agent at season's end. Toronto is not planning on offering him a one-year qualifying offer worth roughly $17 million in the offseason, which means the club would rather trade him now rather than lose him to free agency and receive nothing in return.
Donaldson is slated to begin a formal rehab assignment in the minor leagues next week, and seems to be running much better. The Blue Jays are optimistic he could be back in action with the big club within a week or so.
The contract status of the 2015 American League MVP was a major topic of discussion heading into the season, but unfortunately for the Blue Jays, his trade value has significantly diminished due to his health issues. Had Donaldson lived up to his expected level of high play, Toronto could have demanded a king's ransom on the trade market for him.
With Toronto far out of contention in the American League East behind the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, the team is clearly entering a rebuilding phase. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., widely considered the top prospect in all of baseball right now, has been recently promoted to Triple-A Buffalo. Toronto sees him taking over third-base duties as early as next year, and has high expectations for the son of Hall of Famer, Vladimir Guerrero.
It would have been easier for the Blue Jays to deal Donaldson prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but his injuries prevented the team from doing so.
Once the Blue Jays place Donaldson on revocable waivers, all teams have the option to claim him. Should he clear waivers, the Blue Jays have the option to work out a trade with any team that is interested, retain his services, or let him go for nothing. They have until Aug. 31 to make a trade happen.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been reportedly expressing interest in acquiring Donaldson all season long, and could be perhaps the favorites to land him. Although, any contending team could be willing to roll the dice on his health for a shot at a World Series title. When healthy, Donaldson is a dangerous middle-of-the-lineup hitter, and plays above-average defense at the hot corner.
Donaldson is a three-time All-Star and was hitting .234/.333/.423 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 36 games prior to hitting the disabled list.
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