The rumor mill which has Josh Donaldson traded by the Jays makes sense. It also makes sense for the New York Mets going in high and hard.
Attention Mets fans: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is among those saying that the Toronto Blue Jays are willing to part with their franchise player and the face of their franchise, Josh Donaldson. If there’s any inkling of truth to it, general manager Sandy Alderson needs to be on the phone all day, every day, anteing up to get him while the gettin’s good.
I polled 40 MLB execs and scouts for their Hot Stove predictions and preferences. Here's what they said. https://t.co/J7vw60M8HJ
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) November 17, 2017
When you look at the projected starting lineup for the New York Mets in 2018, the most striking question is where did all the power go and who is coming in as replacements? Well, we know where it went in the form of a salary dump last summer when Alderson unloaded Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers, Jay Bruce to the Indians, and Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays, all for what amounts to a bag of peanuts.
The next most striking aspect of the Mets lineup is that they lack a major league third baseman. Unless, of course, David Wright experiences a miracle cure for his persistent back and neck injuries over the winter. Let’s be real, though. The starting third baseman when the Mets play the Cardinals to open the 2018 season will likely be Wilmer Flores, given the injury suffered by T.J. Rivera last September and the likelihood he won’t be ready for Opening Day. In past auditions at third base, Flores has displayed flaws defensively but has performed well offensively.
Wright is projected by Baseball-Reference to hit .250 with eight home runs and 22 RBI in only 225 plate appearances tracing back to his past inability to stay on the field. Flores, who’s never had a problem offensively, is projected higher with a .267 average to go with 18 HR and 56 RBIs in slightly more than 400 plate appearances.
Compare those stats to Player X whose projected stats according to the same source are .276, 29 HR, 78 RBI and a .378 on-base percentage. Oh, he’s also a three-time All-Star, and he won the MVP award in the American League in 2015.
Player X is, of course, Josh Donaldson. Michael Grange, writing for Sportsnet.ca, reports the stars are lining up for the Toronto Blue Jays to make Donaldson available this winter when his value is highest, rather than wait to deal him at the deadline in July.
For the Mets and Blue Jays, the time is now
For the Blue Jays, if they ever intend to deal Donaldson, the time is now, when teams like the Mets are still searching to fill holes in their lineup.
Much like Joey Votto with the Reds, whose team will lose again next season with or without him, the same can be said of the Blue Jays and Donaldson. All the Jays need to think about is the impact on their fanbase if they trade their most popular player. However, the Mets are still here 35 years after trading future Hall of Famer, Tom Seaver, to the Reds in 1977.
For the Mets, it should be a no-brainer to pursue Donaldson – yesterday! At 31, Donaldson is in his final year of arbitration before he becomes a free agent in 2019. His 2017 salary of $17 million, while not outrageous for a player of his caliber, might represent a challenge for the Wilpon Brothers. It shouldn’t though, not if the Mets as advertised genuinely consider themselves a team who will be in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs.
The other side of the coin is what do the Mets have that the Blue Jays might want? The quick answer is easy – pitching. The who part of it though is trickier and risky for both teams.
Would the Blue Jays, for instance, settle for a deal with one or two prospects that lands Matt Harvey in Toronto where he, like Donaldson, will play his final season before entering free agency? Or, will the Jays want someone included who is younger like Steven Matz, and who despite an injury-plagued career to date, has an escalating upside if he can learn to pitch through pain occasionally?
The overriding fact remains that besides Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto, the Mets have no power in their lineup. Add to that the uncertainty associated with Cespedes and his willingness to play like Yoenis Cespedes day in and day out, plus the ability of Conforto to bounce back from his season-ending injury sooner rather than later, and it becomes clear the Mets need at least one more power bat.
If the Blue Jays do put Donaldson out there, it’s likely they’ll move fast and furiously to close a trade. The logic being it’s better to give their fanbase the entire winter to process the loss of Donaldson while showcasing the newest members of the team over the same period.
The Fred and Jeff Show: Act 137, Scene 72
The trouble with that is this: Sandy Alderson is not Brian Cashman, and he tends to move cautiously before he does anything. Plus, he needs to convince the Wilpons, Fred and Jeff, to dig into their stingy pockets before he even picks up his iPhone.
A deal for Donaldson is not likely to make or break the Mets in 2018. It would be a signal, however, to the team’s fanbase they are serious about improving for the upcoming season. Also, it would give the organization a chance to steal the back pages of New York newspapers and conversation on talk-radio from the Yankees for a few days.
Which, in turn, could prompt a boost in ticket sales, which remains the most prominent factor when a team creates a bottom line for the season. The proverbial caveat, though, is still the fact you need to spend money to make money in business. Jeff and Fred, it’s your move.