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Donaldson's trade chances increase

St. Louis one possible destination in advance of tonight's midnight ET deadline
MLB.com @jonmorosi

Josh Donaldson's tenure with the Blue Jays has included an American League Most Valuable Player Award and consecutive AL Championship Series berths. And he is increasingly likely to be playing for a new team this weekend.

Donaldson is one of the most intriguing trade candidates in the Majors ahead of Friday's midnight ET deadline to be eligible for postseason rosters. A deal became more realistic Thursday, when Donaldson demonstrated his health by going 1-for-3 with a home run in a Minor League rehabilitation game for the Dunedin Blue Jays. Donaldson cleared waivers on Friday, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, and is now eligible to be traded to any team.  

Josh Donaldson's tenure with the Blue Jays has included an American League Most Valuable Player Award and consecutive AL Championship Series berths. And he is increasingly likely to be playing for a new team this weekend.

Donaldson is one of the most intriguing trade candidates in the Majors ahead of Friday's midnight ET deadline to be eligible for postseason rosters. A deal became more realistic Thursday, when Donaldson demonstrated his health by going 1-for-3 with a home run in a Minor League rehabilitation game for the Dunedin Blue Jays. Donaldson cleared waivers on Friday, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, and is now eligible to be traded to any team.  

Trade Talk: The latest before the deadline

Donaldson, 32, has been limited to 36 Major League games this season by injuries, most notably a calf issue that kept him out of game action for three months. Donaldson, due to become a free agent this offseason, has posted his worst OPS (.757) since 2012.

Still, sources say the Cardinals have emerged as a suitor for Donaldson because of infield injuries of their own. Cards officials intensified their efforts to add a position player once Kolten Wong and Jedd Gyorko were placed on the disabled list on consecutive days this week.

The Cardinals aren't desperate to add Donaldson, since they could move Matt Carpenter to third base and platoon Jose Martinez and Matt Adams at first. But if the price tag is sufficiently low, the Cards would welcome the addition of Donaldson once active rosters expand to 40 players Saturday.

Donaldson's right-handed bat would have particular value to St. Louis if the Cardinals meet the Cubs in the National League playoffs. Chicago's postseason rotation is likely to include three left-handers: Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Cole Hamels.

The Indians have been linked to Donaldson, as well, but one source said the chances of him being dealt to Cleveland are "slim." For Donaldson to play every day with the Tribe, Jose Ramirez would need to displace Jason Kipnis at second base, and Indians manager Terry Francona said publicly that he doesn't want to move Ramirez in the midst of his AL MVP Award-caliber year.

The Blue Jays are inclined to move Donaldson on Friday, in part because their relationship with him has deteriorated over time. When asked Thursday about his relationship with the front office, Donaldson told the Toronto Sun, "There's a lot I can say about that, but I choose not to say anything about it right now. I don't feel now is the time or the place."

For a variety of reasons -- Donaldson's injury-plagued season, diminished production, apparent schism with team management and the expected arrival of third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in 2019 -- the Blue Jays are unlikely to extend Donaldson a qualifying offer after this season. As a result, Friday represents their last, best chance to obtain players in return as he leaves the organization.

Jon Paul Morosi is a columnist for MLB.com.

Josh Donaldson