This morning, Bob Nightengale chimed in with this interesting tweet:
The Cards have long been tied to Donaldson due to the team’s need for a superstar in the middle of the order and to Matt Carpenter’s and Jedd Gyorko’s positional versatility. Donaldson was always a long shot because the Blue Jays have treated him as their franchise player and so it never seems as if they ever intended to trade him. If they did, the cost – both in terms of dollars and prospects – seemed to be cost prohibitive.
The other problem is that Donaldson has either been injured or terrible for the entire season. But the team is now in contention and, due to Donaldson’s injuries and general suckitude, the Jays may be inclined to trade him. They’re done and maybe have been convinced not to offer him the QO or try to extend him. If they go young, they’ve got tons of great, young prospects and may not want to block any of them with an aging, oft-injured veteran.
In order for Donaldson to end up a Cardinal, some considerable hoops would have to be jumped through. First, the Jays would have to decide to trade him. Donaldson was fantastic in August and September last season so they may decide to make him the qualifying offer this offseason both because he might still have something left and they may want a veteran presence to help guide the rookies when they promote them.
Second, all the AL teams would get first dibs on Donaldson once they place him on waivers. Trading for Donaldson is a relatively low-risk maneuver at this point – especially for high payroll teams – and if one of them claims him, the Cards won’t ever even get a chance at Donaldson.
So which AL teams might be interested in Donaldson? The good news is that most of the AL contenders are pretty stacked at third base. The Jose Ramirez, Matt Chapman, and Alex Bregman of the Indians, A’s, and Astros, respectively lead the majors in fWAR at the hot corner. The M’s have Kyle Seager at third and have committed to him and the Yankees and Red Sox have young future stars (maybe) Miguel Andujar and Rafael Devers. The Sox also have Eduardo Nunez who they’ve sent out to 3B 31 times so far this season. Neither Devers nor Nunez have played particularly well this season, however, so it’s possible they might be interested.
The other thing is that Donaldson doesn’t have to be a third baseman. He could surely play first as well or teams may just have an eye on him as a potential DH and pinch hitter off the bench. There are a lot of ways to use Donaldson if he’s good, especially with a 40-man roster. Additionally, the Indians could move Ramirez to 2B (as the Cards could do with Gyorko) and play Donaldson at third. If I was Chris Antonelli of the Indians, I’d probably claim Donaldson if he made it past the Mariners.
The other NL contenders with records worse than the Cardinals would also get dibs on Donaldson before the Cardinals but I’m not sure I see the Brewers who already have more infielders than @stlcardscards has twitter enemies or the Rockies (Nolan Arenado) claiming him. Maybe the Rockies would have an eye on playing Donaldson as a first baseman but, to my mind, it’s more likely he’s claimed in the AL than by the Rockies.
The final obstacle to the Cardinals trading for Donaldson is quite simply, would the team be interested?
Why might the Cards be interested in trading for Donaldson:
Former MVP could be a difference maker in September and October
If Wong goes to the DL (as seems likely), Gyorko to 2nd opens a spot for him
The cost is likely to be relatively low as he’s owed just about $4 million
Expanded September rosters leave room to add a roster a player who might be terrible
Why might the Cards NOT be interested:
He’s sucked or been injured all season
The team may not want to disrupt the team dynamic they’ve built up during this winning streak by incorporating a guy who probably expects to play every day
It’s very possible the team has guys on the roster right now who are better than Donaldson
Do the Cardinals need Donaldson? I don’t really think they do but the injury to Wong might necessitate a move. There’s little doubt, however, that a healthy Josh Donaldson could be a difference maker.