As the Major League Baseball waiver trade deadline looms, the St. Louis Cardinals have once again emerged as a suitor for Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson.
This courtship began in the offseason as the Cardinals looked for a power bat in the middle of the lineup, even after Blue Jays management publicly insisted the former American League MVP was not available.
But moving him always made sense for Toronto. Donaldson is 32, was owed $23 million and will be a free agent at the end of this season. Not only that, Donaldson blocks promotion of baseball’s top-rated prospect, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Donaldson, meanwhile, has played in just 36 games this season due to a variety of injuries, including a pulled calf muscle that put him on the disabled list for three months. He begin a rehab assignment Thursday in Class-A Dunedin and hit a home run in his first at bat. He could be big-league ready in time for teams making that last push toward a spot in the postseason.
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Re-enter the Cardinals, who in the last week have placed half of their starting infield — second baseman Kolten Wong and third basemen Jedd Gyorko— on the 10-day disabled list.
Newly-minted manager Mike Shildt could revert to the infield lineup that kicked off the season, with Matt Carpenter at first base and Jose Martinez at first. The recent acquisition of Matt Adams off waivers from the Washington Nationals gives the Cardinals another option at first.
MLB.com writer Jon Paul Morosi reported overnight that the Cardinals’ infield shortage has reignited their interest in Donaldson, who will be due $4 million for the remainder of the year. The Cleveland Indians also have been connected to a potential trade.
Donaldson was the AL MVP in 2015 when he batted .297 with 41 home runs and 123 RBIs. He’s a career .275 hitter and averages 33 home runs and 102 RBIs per 162 games.
The Cardinals are believed to be interested only if the price is right, Morosi said. Don’t expect the team to part with one of its highly-rated young pitchers.
Waiver trades can be somewhat tricky. If the Cardinals offer a deal, Donaldson must first clear waivers, meaning another team can interject with their own trade offer. The Blue Jays, at that point, have 48 hours to negotiate a trade with interested teams or withdraw Donaldson from waivers altogether.
The deadline for completing a waiver deal is midnight tonight.