Where will the Josh Donaldson roulette ball land?
When I was in my first year at Brock University, I decided to take an Astronomy class because I needed a science credit, and it seemed like the easiest way to go about obtaining it.
It was a bit of a joke of a class, the professor was flighty, the lectures comical, and most of the students were just there to acquire that one science credit they needed for their B.A. The lectures were every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 4:30 – 6:00, I think – this was, of course, many long years ago.
To put things into time perspective for any of the younger millennials, who read whatever the hell I write, the Twin Towers (WTC) were still standing in New York, I could go to Buffalo for chicken wings without a passport, Vernon Wells was only 20 and played a handful of games with the Jays, sushi restaurants weren’t on every corner in every city, and Nokia was rocking the damn cell phone casbah too. That’s right kids, it was a time of N64, a pretty shitty Woodstock, late 90s teen Rom Coms starring Freddie Prinze Jr., and some awful trash music like the hit song by Eiffel 65 called Blue (Da Ba Dee), which was played at every lame ass university bar every night of the goddamn week.
So back to this Astronomy class, I would go to lecture every now and then and sit there and take the odd note, but usually I was thinking about going to the new casino that was just built in Niagara Falls, which is now the old casino - of course. I was kind of addicted to the rush of playing roulette and betting on black or red and watching that little white ball spin around and drop and dance around until it landed where it would.
I was actually pretty good at it and would win more times than I would lose. Every now and then I would take the risk and bet inside on my numbers, which were usually 16 (day I was born), 17 (Wendel Clark), 23 (Michael Jordan), 11 (because I thought it was lucky), and 30 (my goalie number) – yes, I was a hockey goalie - my good ol' 'Polk High Al Bundy' days.
So to get back to this story, which does serve a purpose, I would sit in lecture with my best friend, who also took this joke class, and we would write down the numbers that we thought we should play at the casino because we got into the habit of going there after that class and playing roulette. My best friend was better at guessing the numbers, and he would hit his numbers almost every time that we went – I didn’t have much luck with that, but I was good at doing the whole red or black guessing thing. We were young, our favourite movie at the time was Swingers, and we thought we were money baby. Trent? No. Okay, moving on …
… So you might ask yourself what in the hell does this have to do with Josh Donaldson? But it actually has a lot to do with JD – quite a bit actually, because Mark ShapIro and Ross Atkins are going to have to properly play this hand and there really is only one play right now, which is to not trade him during the offseason unless some unbelievable offer is made that is too good to pass up, but that is highly unlikely.
So the way I see it is like this, where the little roulette should-JD-stay-or-go ball falls in the future is going to depend on many factors now, isn’t it? But it’s safe to make the assumption since the recent signing of Marco Estrada that the FO are going to have another go at 2018, and JD is going to be a major piece that contributes to a hopeful post season run next season.
Now, the should the Blue Jays trade or sign Donaldson debate is going to be a hot topic written about over and over and over during this next year. I would probably place my chips on the fact that he will be a Blue Jay on opening day in 2018, but whether or not he will be a Blue Jay by the end of the season is a completely different story. If the Blue Jays are not in it come July, they would have to get what they could for JD through a trade, wouldn’t they? And if the team is in it in July they will not trade him, but probably offer him an extension in the offseason that could possibly be rejected, as that’s how the business side of things seem to work. Now, if the team doesn’t trade him, they have a good run in 2018, and then he walks – that’s fine. If he walks, he walks.
It’s a real possibility that come the end of September next year, Blue Jays fans may be saluting JD farewell, but who really knows? Now, the great debate that follows is should they offer him an extension with a 3rd basemen and future star like Vlad Jr. waiting in the shadows, and I say sure why the hell not, it’s not my money, and Rogers has the means to do so. The other factor to take in is what the market will be like during the 2018/19 offseason with players like Harper, Machado, and Kershaw out there.
A lot of MLB teams don’t need to fill a spot at the holy-hell-hot corner right now and when the time comes during that future offseason a team like the Yankees, who right now have a Frazier/Torreyes/Headley combo pack, could look to sign the JD type, but I’d bet they’d prefer someone like Machado because of his age instead. Another team that may want the service of JD, of course, could be the Cardinals, but who really knows – certainly not the old Jamaican lady who reads tarot cards near the Black Bull bar on Queen St. West.
It is a fact that ShapIro dealt some rock stars in the past while he was in Cleveland like Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee, and CC Sabathia, but that’s just because he knew that the franchise didn't have the cash to keep them around when extension time came, but Toronto is a different story and they have the money and the fourth highest payroll in the MLB according to Spotrac.
This time around the franchise he’s in charge of, ya know, has some serious cash-rules-everything-around-me CREAM, so it will be interesting to see if they will extend Donaldson into the future. Now this wasn't the best season for the Bringer of Dingers, and even in this 2017 JD 'off year' (well, first half off), he has still generated a 4.8 WAR (according to Fan Graphs), crushed 30 plus home runs, and is worth a 151 wRC+, which is holy are-you-cussing-kidding-me awesome.
I don’t think that age will decline his play as much as people seem to think it will, as he makes his way through his mid-thirties. But a big factor when it comes to this contract extension debate is the whole, ‘what do you do with him when Vlad’s ready?’ thing. And you know what, I’m not sure, but I like it when the team I like is in a position where they have too much talent, I think that’s pretty damn cool. And, personally, I’m not worried about the Rogers dollar because as a Canadian I know how much they have, so I say spend it.
Here's the some-kind-of-thing folks, I don’t have a clue where the JD roulette ball will land in the future, but he most likely (like 99.99% kind of likely) be a Blue Jay in 2018. Now, after that, not even Mark ShapIro knows at this point in time.
When the Blue Jays do win a 3rd World Series and capture the Golden Flags, the team will need to have the proper balance of youthful rising stars like Vlad Jr. and Bichette and veterans like – dare I say – Josh Donaldson.
… Because when Spring Training happens and that future Blue Jays World Series team is stretching on that first day of camp in the year 20 and ?, ol’ Gibbers is going to look around and say, ‘We’re gonna win it all’ – just like Davey Johnson said to the bad ass rock n’ roll 1986 Mets - and, yes, John Gibbons will still be around, I hope.
So I’m not sure where the JD roulette ball will land in the future, it could be black, it could be red, but don’t forget that it could land on green. And maybe, it’s possible Mark ShapIro might put his chips on the money, but if the Jays are complete dogshit by July 2018, well, there’s only one thing the FO can do with JD and that’s trade him, so only time will tell, but I’m sure there are many writers out there who are going to tell you what ShapIro and Atkins should do, and I’m not one of them.