TORONTO -- The Blue Jays avoided arbitration with star third baseman Josh Donaldson earlier this month, but there still has not been any progress on a long-term contract extension. In fact, the two sides haven't even talked about it.
Donaldson expressed his desire at the end of the 2017 to sign a multi-year contract and remain with the Blue Jays for the rest of his career. His hope was that the two sides would find common ground this offseason, but that has yet to happen.
Toronto secured some short-term security by signing Donaldson to a one-year deal worth $23 million, which is a Major League record for an arbitration-eligible player. The problem is that Donaldson was initially hoping for a lot more term than that, but he admitted on Saturday afternoon that the Blue Jays have yet to approach his agent.
"I think there's progress, because we were able to get the deal done that we were able to get done," Donaldson said. "I kind of let my agent take care of what's going on, as far as those types of talks. He fills me in whenever there's information that's going on with that. To my knowledge, there hasn't been [any talks] up to this point. I think it will be a fluid situation at some point, it's just not now."
Donaldson, at least publicly, has not given up hope that his agent will sit down with the Blue Jays before the start of the regular season. A new deal is still possible, but it also seems as though Toronto is intent to start the year with Donaldson on a short-term deal and then re-evaluate midway through the season.
The 32-year-old slugger remained patient and professional while being asked countless questions about his contract situation during Toronto's Winter Fest at Rogers Centre. He'll need to maintain that diplomatic approach throughout the year, because the speculation is not going away any time soon.
Donaldson's name seems to get mentioned in the rumor mill on a weekly basis, even though the Blue Jays have been adamant that he will not be dealt this offseason. That trend will continue during the regular season, and visiting reporters likely will make it a routine to try to find out clues about his future destination. That would be problematic for a lot of players, but Donaldson seems to be taking it in stride.
"I don't think about it," Donaldson said. "I think distractions are things that you allow to be distractions. It's not something that's a distraction to me. I'm very comfortable with where I'm at in this game, the things that I've done for this game and in it.
"It's not a distraction, because I know it's going to be handled at some point. My mom always told me that you don't always get things right away when you want it. Patience is a virtue, and I definitely think that being patient has worked out up to this point, and I'm going to continue to do it."
The Blue Jays, for their part, haven't said much about the contract situation. Donaldson has been linked to the Cardinals throughout the offseason, but those two ballclubs worked out a pair of deals and neither one involved talking about Toronto's franchise player. That should be considered a strong indication that Donaldson will open the 2018 season with the Blue Jays, but after that, everything is up in the air.
"Not aware of those discussions," general manager Ross Atkins said in reference to the trade talks. "Those are rumors I believe people are speculating on."