MVP moment? Donaldson, Vlad swap jerseys

September 19th, 2021

TORONTO -- Back on July 2, 2015, the present and future of the Blue Jays overlapped for the first time.

was coming off a 3-for-5 night with a home run in a win over the Red Sox, building his case for what would be just the second AL MVP Award in Blue Jays history. The news of the day, though, was a teenager. , the 16-year-old with a prodigious bat and a famous name, had signed with the Blue Jays.

On Sunday in Toronto, as fans filtered out of Rogers Centre following a 5-3 win over the Twins, Donaldson walked across the field wearing a Minnesota jersey -- that still looks unnatural to those in Toronto -- to embrace Guerrero, the MLB home run leader at just 22 years old. The two represent the past and present. It’s now Guerrero pushing his team to the postseason, and Guerrero making his case for MVP.

The two removed their jerseys, signed them and traded. It’s something you see after soccer matches or NFL games, but rarely in baseball.

After Donaldson and Guerrero posed for photos, they turned to the crowd behind home plate, which had stuck around to see the two stars collide. Donaldson waved to the crowd, pulled away and the two went in their opposite directions.

“Yesterday, during the game, I asked him for his jersey and he asked me for my jersey. We agreed we’d do it after the last game of the series, and that’s what we did today,” Guerrero said through a translator. “He told me after, ‘Stay focused and keep working hard to the end.’”

The love for Donaldson has never died in Toronto. Beyond José Bautista and Roy Halladay, there may be no more beloved Blue Jays player since the World Series years of '92 and '93. Donaldson embodied those playoff teams of '15 and '16, who were not only better than their opponents, but enjoyed telling them exactly that.

Donaldson received a standing ovation when he stepped in for his first plate appearance of the series on Friday, and those ovations continued through all three games. Now 35, Donaldson knows what the present and future in Toronto look like. He also knows just how special the city of Toronto can feel when it has a team making a run, regardless of the sport.

On Saturday, Donaldson told Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun that Guerrero, not favorite Shohei Ohtani, should be named MVP. It’s unlikely the voting shakes out that way, given the rarity of what Ohtani has accomplished in his brilliant season, but there’s zero argument that Guerrero’s season has been, at the very least, MVP-caliber.

“Coming from Josh, it’s unbelievable what he said,” Guerrero said. “Especially coming from somebody who already won the MVP. Since I was in the Minor Leagues, he was always giving me advice, especially in Spring Training. When I was playing third, he was helping me out when I was taking ground balls with him. He’s always been great to me. I really appreciate his comments.”

Growing up around the game, Guerrero has long had a respect for its veterans and those who have achieved greatness before him, whether as an individual or part of a team. He’s hoping to do both in 2021, just like Donaldson did in 2015, each with one of the greatest seasons in Blue Jays history.