We’ve had Josh Donaldson on our side for two seasons now. In his first season with the Blue Jays, he won the AL MVP award. His second season was, pretty much, as good as his first and he finished fourth in MVP voting.
He had 4 more home runs and 9 more doubles in 2015. I guess it is how you view baseball as to which season was better offensively.
So the questions:
What would you offer him in a contract extension?
We own Josh for 2 more seasons. He’ll make $17 million this year. He is arbitration eligible for the 2018 season (and he’ll get getting a heck of a lot of money). Would you want to give him an extension now?
Josh turned 31 this winter. He’ll be a free agent starting at his age 34 season, just like Edwin Encarnacion this winter. Jays offered Edwin $80 million over 4 years (which turned out to be the best offer Edwin would get).
I’d guess Josh would be expecting more right now.
Would you offer Josh $100 million for four years, including his last arbitration year? So $100 million for 2018-2021? I might do that.
I wonder if aging right-handed power hitters will have as hard time in free agency in 2019 as they seemed to have had this winter?
When should we start considering moving him across the diamond to first base?
The short answer is: if we aren’t signing him to an extension, we won’t have to think about it.
If we do keep him around? Well, his defense at third is pretty good, so there is no real rush from that end. Over the last three years his UZR/150 numbers have been dropping 13.2, 9.8 and 5.7 last year. It sort of looks like one of those math problems, give us the next number in the sequence. But, if his defense was to decline at the same rate, I’d be ok with him playing the position for a few more years.
Why I would be thinking of moving him is that he is getting older (31 this season) and playing third base, especially the way Josh does it, is tough on the body. Josh had little nagging injuries for a good part of the season. He played in 155 games (136 at third), but he did have moments where he wasn’t hitting like Josh Donaldson. His bat is so good, I’d want him playing a position that doesn’t cause as much wear and tear.
For now, he’s fine at third. I would like the team to give him a game at DH, every week or two. Not wait for the nagging injuries, but rest him at DH to be proactive, keep him healthy. In 3-4 years, I would think, whoever he is playing for, he’d be best to move across the diamond.
How many seasons like the last two would Josh need to be the greatest Jays position player ever?
After two seasons, Josh has a bWAR of 16.3 as a Jay. The top Jay bWAR, for position players, is Jose Bautista, at 37.7. So, if Josh continued to put up annual WARs of 8, it would take him 3 more seasons to pass Jose’s total. Course, Jose is going to add to his total this year, so Josh would be chasing a moving target. And expecting Josh to continue to put up annual WARs of 8 might be a big optimistic.
How long until Josh cracks the Jays Top 10 in position player WAR? Baseball Reference lists Roberto Alomar and Devon White tied for 9th at 22.2. If Josh can put up a 6 WAR season this year, he would pass by both. If he puts up a 7.0 WAR, he would also pass by John Olerud and be 8th on the Jays all-time list. Two good seasons would put him in our top 5.
Is Josh my favorite player?
Well, depends on the moment. My favorite Blue Jay is a rather fluid spot, it changes by game, and sometimes by inning. But, with Edwin gone (sniff) Josh moves up a spot.
I love how intense he is, how much he wants to win, how much he wants to be the best. I never thought I’d see a player as intense as Jose Bautista, but Josh could equal him.
But, Josh does have to get himself a decent hair cut one day.