Cardinals may be interested in Donaldson, saying something about both teams
The Cardinals want to go for it and the Blue Jays have some players who would spark bidding wars
The July 31 non-waiver trade deadline is now less than four weeks away, which means the rumors are about to start flying. Especially right after the All-Star break. That's when trade talks really seem to pick up as teams get serious about improving their current roster or planning for the future.
Will any superstars get traded at the deadline this year? That remains to be seen, but I sure hope so. Blockbusters are always fun. And this juicy little tidbit hit the rumor mill Wednesday:
The Toronto Blue Jays , despite Tuesday's win, are in last place in the AL East at 38-45. They're five games back of the second wild-card spot with seven teams ahead of them. Toronto faces a big uphill climb to get to the postseason and, frankly, it has given no reason to believe it is capable of making such a run. That doesn't mean it can't happen. Just that it seems unlikely.
The St. Louis Cardinals , meanwhile, are 40-43. They're only 3 1/2 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the NL Central with eight head-to-head games remaining, including the final three games of the season. St. Louis is definitely within striking distance of a playoff spot. Anyway, this Josh Donaldson rumor tells us something about both teams leading up to the trade deadline.
The Cardinals want to go for it
This has not been a storybook season for the Cardinals, who have slumped for long periods and have dealt with numerous injuries, most notably losing top prospect Alex Reyes to Tommy John surgery in spring training. Whenever a team deals with that sort of adversity and has some aging core players ( Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina , most notably), it's always fair to wonder whether they'll take a step back and rebuild, like the New York Yankees did last summer.
By virtue of their interest in Donaldson, we know the Cardinals aren't interested in a rebuild. Trading for Donaldson is a win-now move. You don't pursue that if you're on the fence between going for it and rebuilding. If anything, the front office recognizes this might be St. Louis' last chance to contend with this core, so it wants to put the best foot forward and go all in. A prolonged losing streak between now and the deadline could change things, but right now, the Cardinals are not thinking about a rebuild. They're focused on winning in 2017.
The Blue Jays could control the trade market
There has already been some chatter that the Blue Jays will look to sell at the trade deadline and gear up for a run in 2018. Trading Donaldson would seem to make contention in 2018 less likely, though if they get a good package back, things could turn around in a hurry.
Just think, if the Blue Jays do decide to sell at the deadline, they have a lot of interesting pieces to offer:
- Donaldson: A legitimate MVP-caliber performer at a hard-to-fill position. He's also under team control as an arbitration-eligible player next season, so he's not a rental.
- Jose Bautista : No longer the slugger he was in his prime, though he still offers some power and on-base ability, plus the willingness to play just about any position. And he's on a one-year deal.
- Justin Smoak : Why not listen to offers for Smoak? He's having a career year and he's only signed through 2018 (with a club option for 2019). If the Blue Jays are willing to listen to offers for Donaldson, they should do the same with Smoak.
- Starting pitchers: Looking for a lefty? There's J.A. Happ. A rental? They could offer Marco Estrada . Willing to spend big for a young starter? Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez fit the bill.
- Role players: A team needing a pesky lefty bat and improved outfield defense could ask about Ezequiel Carrera . Steve Pearce could interest teams looking for a righty platoon bat. Bullpen arms like Joe Smith (when healthy), Ryan Tepera and Joe Biagini would surely garner interest.
The Blue Jays seem to have something for everyone. So, if they do decide to take a step back and sell at the deadline, they could be a one-stop shop for every contender looking for an upgrade. Toronto is in position to cash in big on July 31.
Every team wants Donaldson
This needs to be said: Every team has interest in Donaldson. Well, maybe not literally every team, but most teams in MLB. He's a game-changing impact player, the kind of player who could shift the balance of power in a postseason race. Every team that fancies itself a contender this year or next year could find room for him on the roster. The Cardinals having interest in Donaldson is not unique. Most teams have interest in him. The difference is whether they decide to seriously pursue him.
Wherever there's smoke, there's fire. The Cardinals might not have started formal trade negotiations with the Blue Jays about Donaldson, but rumors like this often indicate legitimate interest, meaning it's only a matter of time until the phone call gets made. We know St. Louis wants to win now. The Blue Jays do too! But they're not really in position to do that. The Cardinals are in better position to contend and Donaldson could push them over the top. Toronto has to strongly consider selling at the deadline at this point, and if it does, a Donaldson bidding war could be intense.