In a shocking move to Tribe fans everywhere, it was announced that the Indians have landed Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson in a trade Friday night. It should be noted that this trade came before MLB’s August 31 waiver trade deadline that enables players that are moved prior to midnight to be eligible for their respective team’s postseason roster.
A three-time All-Star and 2015 AL MVP, Donaldson has battled injury after injury this season and is currently working himself back from a lengthy DL stint at the time of this reporting.
In only 36 games this year, Donaldson is hitting .234/.333/.423 with five homers and 11 RBI, a far cry from his 2014-2017 seasons in which Donaldson averaged .277 with 35 homers and 100 RBI per season.
With this trade, it will be interesting to see how the team and management go about the everyday roster. Incumbent third baseman Jose Ramirez is having an MVP-caliber season and is an above-average defender at third. However, starting second baseman Jason Kipnis has gotten off to a dreadful offensive start this season and despite his good showing at the plate lately, the team may be looking to add a bit more pop from its infielders.
Although Manager Terry Francona has already said that he does not want to move Ramirez back to second base at this point in the season, the acquisition of Donaldson gives him more options at second base and third base. When healthy, Donaldson is one of the most feared bats in the American League.
At this point in the season, Kipnis has the better all-around offensive numbers and has been healthy all season long. With the Indians hovering around 20 games above .500 with a firm lead on the division, messing with the team chemistry will be a slippery slope.
Also, Donaldson is in a contract year and will be a free agent at season’s end while Kipnis has one more year and his backup, Erik Gonzalez, is under team control until 2023.
Fans will support Francona and how he handles the team going forward and Donaldson will provide a spark, if healthy.
Good luck to Josh and welcome to Cleveland! Go Tribe!