DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson fully expects to hit free agency at the end of the season because his representatives and Toronto's front office have not seen "eye to eye" on the framework of a long-term deal.Donaldson announced midway through his first media availability of the
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson fully expects to hit free agency at the end of the season because his representatives and Toronto's front office have not seen "eye to eye" on the framework of a long-term deal.
Donaldson announced midway through his first media availability of the spring that he was happy to answer any questions about his pending free agency, but after Monday afternoon he would no longer comment on the issue.
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That sparked a countless number of questions from reporters about the nature of his negotiations this offseason and the odds of him remaining in a Blue Jays uniform beyond 2018. Donaldson patiently answered each one and insisted -- despite the lack of a long-term deal -- he was "happy" and "excited" about the upcoming season.
"There really haven't been numbers per se, any definite type of numbers that have been thrown around," Donaldson said when asked if he received an offer. "But we've had conversations about it and I just think that we are not quite there.
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"Not quite there meaning there's not a deal done and we're just not there. We're not in the same type of area, the same ballpark, to make a discussion to moving forward. To me, it's just not that big of an issue to focus on right now, or throughout this season, because I don't feel like the time is right at the moment and I just want to really focus on what I can do to be better and what I can do in our locker room to be better."
Donaldson expressed his desire for a long-term deal at the end of last season, but it seems like the talks never really got off the ground. He met with Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins as recently as Thursday at Toronto's Minor League complex, but with both sides seemingly far apart in negotiations, all of the talks are now being put on hold.
The 32-year-old Donaldson said that he recently informed the Blue Jays that he is no longer interested in negotiating a new deal. That stance will change at the end of the season and Donaldson clearly stated that he expects the talks will "ramp up again at some point." He just doesn't want it to happen now because his focus is on the field and he doesn't want any distractions taking away from that.
"I believe they want me," Donaldson said. "If they didn't want me, we wouldn't be having any type of discussions leading up to this point. They've been very good with the communication process. We just aren't eye to eye at this moment. I've talked to Ross. I explained to him that I thought it would be best to just kind of shut that down right now. I feel like it's best for me to focus on myself and focus on this team, because I know that's what's going to help us win games."
Donaldson is coming off a season in which he hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs over 113 games. A lingering right calf injury led to an extended stint on the disabled list and 2017 marked the first year since he became a regular in '13 that Donaldson was limited to fewer than 155 games. Until last season, he was known as one of the most durable players in the game, and that's a reputation he is looking to regain this year.
The former American League Most Valuable Player is taking a risk by putting off contract negotiations, but then again, so are the Blue Jays. The free-agent market was slow to develop this offseason and some players were forced to lower their asking prices in search of a big league deal. Donaldson, for his part, doesn't seem too concerned about the current economic climate because he believes next year will be a different story.
"What has led up to right now, I don't personally believe is going to be what the market is next year, per se," Donaldson said. "You're going to have a very good free-agent class. We'll see what happens, but as of right now, our camp and I, we have our views, and it hasn't shifted."