Donaldson begins rehab, trade buzz intensifies

Third baseman goes 1-for-2 with RBI, plays 5 innings in field

August 27th, 2018

BALTIMORE -- Josh Donaldson officially began his rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Dunedin on Tuesday night and the expectation is that he will now be placed on revocable trade waivers in the very near future.

Donaldson went 1-for-2 with an RBI and a walk in his first game action since May 28. The former American League MVP also played five innings at third base before he was removed from the game as the Blue Jays looked to manage his early workload.

The 32-year-old walked during a nine-pitch plate appearance in the first inning, singled in the third and flied out to center in the fifth. Donaldson was tested in the field as he made one play in the first, caught a popup in the third and then had a ball deflect off his glove for a single in the fifth.

"I have no way of knowing that to be honest with you," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said when asked how quickly Donaldson might be able to return to form. "It's good that he's doing it. But it's one of those things, when he knocks on that door we'll know."

The Blue Jays are playing coy, but Donaldson appears to be returning just in time because the deadline for teams to trade for a player and have him be eligible for the postseason is Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET. Now that Donaldson has begun his rehab assignment, he becomes eligible to be placed on revocable trade waivers.

Assuming nothing changes in the immediate future concerning Donaldson's health, that's the route the Blue Jays are expected to take as they look to recoup a little bit of value for the pending free agent.

If Donaldson is claimed on waivers, the Blue Jays will have three options at their disposal:

• Work out a standard trade with the claiming club within 48 hours.

• Allow Donaldson -- and all money remaining on his contract -- to go to the claiming club with no return.

• Pull Donaldson back off waivers.

The Blue Jays are expected to be aggressive in moving Donaldson this week to avoid a rather complicated situation this offseason. If Donaldson remains with the Blue Jays through the end of the regular season, Toronto would then have to decide whether to extend him a qualifying offer of approximately $18 million for 2019.

Extending a qualifying would ensure the Blue Jays receive compensation should he leave for another team during the offseason. The problem is that it's believed the club is concerned Donaldson might accept the offer, which would then have a significant impact on how much money the club has to spend next year.

The only way around the uncertainty is by moving Donaldson to another team before the end of the week. A large number of scouts are expected to be in attendance for Donaldson's rehab assignment, and if he looks healthy, there's a good chance the three-time All-Star will be sent elsewhere.

Donaldson slashed .234/.333/.423 with five homers and a .757 OPS in 36 games prior to landing on the 60-day disabled list three months ago. Donaldson's locker was notably emptied on Sunday at Rogers Centre, and the third baseman attempted to clear the air with a statement.

"I want to play soon and wanted to make sure I have everything I need to do that," Donaldson said in the statement, which was issued through a club official. "So I asked the staff to pack my locker, then I can go through it."