Josh Donaldson is due to begin sprinting this week, the latest step toward getting back on the field — and presumably the trade block.
Donaldson hasn’t played for months, but don’t discount the possibility he could be traded. And, assuming he recovers before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, perhaps the most realistic landing spot could be the Indians, provided he truly can prove that he's healthy and back in form as something close to his remarkable best.
Here’s a rundown of the most likely possibilities …
1) Indians: The Indians were one of those teams in on Manny Machado, and they could move MVP candidate Jose Ramirez from third base to second, with Jason Kipnis joining a thin outfield made thinner by injury. Top Jays executives Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins started in Cleveland, so they have a rapport with Indians higher-ups, as well as a keen knowledge of their system. They were also one of the teams connected to interest in Bryce Harper at the deadline, so it's known that they were trying to make an impact addition to their lineup.
2) Cardinals: The Cardinals would have to pick up their pace, but they were perhaps the most interested this winter, when they seemed to have extensive talks with the Blue Jays about Donaldson. The Cardinals already claimed pitcher Tyson Ross on waivers, showing they haven’t given up on the playoffs yet, despite the odds against them. Though, one Cardinals connected person warned, winter interest doesn’t necessarily translate to summer interest.
3) Braves: The Braves could be another team in the mix. They were very much interested in Machado, but the timing wasn’t right; back then the Braves likely weren’t as convinced they were a bona fide contender. Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos acquired Donaldson for the Jays in the first place, and while Johan Camargo has done a decent job at third, he’s not Donaldson (few players are, to be fair).
4) Cubs: There’s still no official word on when star third baseman Kris Bryant is coming back. The Cubs are very close to the $197-million luxury tax threshold, though they could potentially get the Jays to pay down the deal if they gave up the right prospects. At this point, though, Bryant is expected back at some point, whether or not there’s a stated timetable. That makes Donaldson less likely, though one can never rule it out.
5) Red Sox: He’d be perfect for Fenway Park, as if the Red Sox need any more help. But Rafael Devers just returned Wednesday night, the Red Sox are already over the highest luxury tax threshold and if they were to get anyone else, presumably it would finally be the set-up relief help everyone expected them to get in the first place.