Friday night showcased an enormous amount of moves, mostly contenders bolstering their teams and middle-of-the-road teams starting their rebuild. Cleveland was one of the teams to possibly add their final piece of the puzzle when they acquired Josh Donaldson from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Cleveland made a big splash before the actual trade deadline on July 31 when they shipped their top prospect Francisco Mejia to the San Diego Padres for relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber.
It wasn’t a secret that Cleveland was trying to make more moves around the waiver deadline and a big move at the deadline wouldn’t be surprising. The defending world champion Houston Astros made their big splash at the waiver deadline last season when they acquired Justin Verlander.
The top player on Cleveland’s watch list was outfielder and former MVP, Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen has played for the San Francisco Giants this season after playing the last nine season with Pittsburgh. On Thursday, it was reported by YESNetwork that McCutchen was being traded to the New York Yankees.
With McCutchen gone, Cleveland had to focus their intentions on other batters available around the league. One name that had been mentioned earlier in the season, but sore in the previous two weeks, was Josh Donaldson. It had been rumored already this season that Donaldson was on his way out, Toronto had underperformed all season and had a zero percent chance of making the postseason as of July 5.
Donaldson brings an absurd resume with him to Cleveland, including an MVP in 2015. His true breakout year was in 2013 with the Oakland Athletics, since 2013 he has accrued at least 110 hits each season. This season will be the first since then that he won’t hit the 100 hit plateau.
Donaldson has fought injuries throughout the season and has hit the DL this season twice for an extended time. The former MVP missed every game from April 11 through May 3. The biggest concern for Cleveland fans is the amount of time that he has missed lately. Out with a calf injury, Donaldson has not played at the MLB level since May 28.
Statistically, last season was Donaldson’s worst since being labeled as a superstar. He still tallied over 100 hits and cranked out 33 home runs. The headlines are a little misleading when they say that Cleveland has acquired a former MVP. While Donaldson is one of the deadliest bats in the MLB when healthy, the problem will be keeping him healthy.
Donaldson recently finished up a minor league rehab stint with the Dunedin Blue Jays and he didn’t appear to have rust. With his arrival in Cleveland, the question will be how Donaldson will fit in. His work ethic is one of the best in the league and when he’s healthy, it’s hard to find any reason to keep him out of the lineup.
Before Kipnis’ hot streak, Kipnis is currently batting over .400 in the last week, it would be easy to move Jose Ramirez to second base and insert Donaldson into third base. It’s impossible to set a scorching Jason Kipnis on the bench, he’s struggled most of the season and has finally found his footing.
Acquiring such a talent as Donaldson could really tip the scale in Cleveland’s favor. When healthy, the Indians lineup will feature Fransisco Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion and Donaldson!
October will certainly be an interesting time for Cleveland fans. Will Donaldson bring talent with him or just more time on the DL?