Indians acquire former MVP Donaldson from Blue Jays
By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Josh Donaldson’s rough season has taken a positive turn. The Indians are giving him a swing at October.
The 2015 AL MVP was traded Friday night by Toronto to Cleveland, which is hoping a healthy Donaldson can bolster its lineup and help the club get back to the World Series.
“This is one of the most dynamic players in the game on both sides of the ball when he’s healthy,” Indians president Chris Antonetti said late Friday night. “We think there’s an opportunity for him to get to a point this month where he’ll be playing in games regularly and has a chance to impact us in the postseason.”
The AL Central-leading Indians sent a player to be named to the Blue Jays for Donaldson, a three-time All-Star who has been limited to 36 games this season because of injuries. Toronto will send Cleveland $2,709,677 to cover most of the $3,709,677 remaining in Donaldon’s $23 million salary.
The third baseman played in his first game since May 28 earlier this week during a rehab stint in Florida and the Indians are satisfied he’s worth taking on for the season’s final month and then the postseason.
“We had to do our due diligence to make sure we were getting back a player that we felt had a chance to help us,” Antonetti said. “We know we’re taking on some risk with that. But we feel we’ve built that in appropriately with the structure of the deal and spent quite a bit of time talking with the Blue Jays on how we appropriately balance that risk.”
It’s not immediately known how much of Donaldson’s 2018 contract Cleveland is inheriting.
Antonetti said Donaldson will be in Cleveland on Saturday and a plan will be mapped out for him joining the club on a full-time basis. It’s possible Donaldson could be placed on the disabled list so he can play in minor league games while rehabbing a calf injury.
Once Donaldson is ready, Indians manager Terry Francona will play him at third, which means the club will move All-Star Jose Ramirez to second and replace Jason Kipnis.
Antonetti said the club had preliminary discussions with Ramirez and Kipnis, but will meet with them again before Saturday’s game.
Antonetti is confident Ramirez and Kipnis will be willing to do whatever’s best for the Indians.
“What we’ve seen repeatedly with our roster is we have guys that are first and foremost focused on winning, trying to get to the postseason and win a World Series,” he said. “We’ve seen repeated examples of guys willing to make either personally difficult decisions, or in some cases, sacrifices to help the team win. I think that is part of the culture that Tito (Francona) has continued to build here, and our players actively embrace.”
In Cleveland, the right-handed hitting Donaldson will be reunited with Indians slugger Edwin Encarnacion, his former teammate in Toronto.
“He’s great player, man,” Encarnacion said after the Indians beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0 and before the trade was official. “If it happens, everybody is going to be excited here. He’s a great guy.”
The 32-year-old Donaldson was the league’s top player in 2015, when he batted .297 with 41 homers and 123 RBIs. Slowed by the calf injury, Donaldson batted .234 with five homers and 16 RBIs this year for the Blue Jays.
Antonetti said the Indians scouted Donaldson in Florida this week and the team didn’t know if he would be available in a deal until 1 p.m. on Friday.
Donaldson, who has 179 career homers, began his career with Oakland and played four seasons with the Athletics.
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