Since at least the run-up to this year's July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, the Cardinals have been linked to Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson. That implied interest still appears to be a thing ... 

Donaldson missed significant time with a calf injury this season, but when healthy he's produced in pretty much a characteristic manner: .272/.389/.564 with 33 home runs in 111 games. Donaldson in 2018 will be in his age-32 season and walk year. He signed a two-year, $28.65 million deal with the Jays prior to the 2016 season, but he'll be arbitration-eligible prior to next season. Given that Donaldson made $17 million this year and put up big numbers, he's going to be in for a hefty 2018 payday. That's obviously a consideration for any team interested in dealing for him. The Cardinals already have more than $100 million on the books for 2018, and that's not counting a handful of arbitration raises. That said, they can certainly handle the Donaldson investment. 

As for the potential fit, nothing's simple. The Jays reportedly will trade Donaldson only if they get something back that helps them in 2018. That's tough, since these kinds of trades usually flip short-term assets (Donaldson) for long-term ones. What this may mean is that the Jays are looking for potential upgrades elsewhere that also bring them some future ceiling. Again, hard to pull off. 

On the Cardinals side of things, they definitely need another heart-of-the-order bat, and Donaldson is very much that. Putting him at third base would allow Jedd Gyorko a super-sub role and a hedge at every infield position. If there's a concern, it's that this locks Matt Carpenter into regular first base duty and perhaps squeezes Jose Martinez's playing time. Any plan that doesn't involve regular duty for Tommy Pham and Martinez isn't a sound one. Yes, Martinez can get by in left, but the Cardinals' outfield is a crowded one. 

And maybe there's the opportunity. Jose Bautista probably isn't going to be back in Toronto, and the Cardinals have outfielders to spare. No, you're not going to get a player like Donaldson with a package built around Randal Grihuk or Stephen Piscotty, but something from the Harrison Bader-Tyler O'Neill class plus a young arm or two maybe gets the discussion going. Maybe Carson Kelly gets involved.

So, yes, it's a potential fit in St. Louis, but it bears repeating that a clear path for Pham and Martinez should be a 2018 priority for the Cardinals. If they commit themselves to that, then a Donaldson addition -- even at great cost in terms of prospects -- makes things very interesting in the NL Central.