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|Posted: Mon Oct 2nd, 2017 04:49 am||
|Before the Blue Jays took the field in the Bronx on Sunday for the final game of a disappointing season, third baseman Josh Donaldson made it clear as rain that he can envision a future for himself in Toronto.
Donaldson, a free agent following the 2018 campaign, told reporters he's expressed to the front office how much he's enjoyed his three years with the Blue Jays, and that he's amenable to a long-term extension with the club.
"I feel like I've proven what I need to prove on the field," Donaldson said, per MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. "I don't hope or wish for anything. I've made it known to our front office that I enjoy being a Toronto Blue Jay. That I enjoy my time here. If it's a possibility I would definitely enjoy being a Blue Jay for a long time."
The feeling, it appears, is mutual. In August, with Donaldson's future in Toronto an increasingly hot topic as the Blue Jays' playoff prospects faded, president Mark Shapiro noted, "It’s hard to imagine any scenario where we’re a better team without him," and stressed that "We want J.D. here." Though some speculated the Blue Jays might trade Donaldson this winter, Shapiro quashed that notion in late September, saying, "It's almost a certainty that he’ll be back here next year."
Still, that doesn't mean a contract extension is in the offing, Donaldson said.
"I'm not going to sit here and try to force their hand and they're not going to sit here and force mine," Donaldson said. "If it's able to work out, I'd be tickled pink. But at the end of the day I don't make those decisions and I can't control that. The only thing I can control is going out there and trying to help my team win on a day-to-day basis and produce the way I know I can."
And, boy, can he. Since debuting with the Blue Jays in 2015, Donaldson has accrued 21.3 WAR - more than every player in baseball except Mike Trout and Kris Bryant - while putting up a .946 OPS (153 wRC+) in 426 games. This season, despite missing time with a calf injury early on, Donaldson still managed a team-high 4.9 WAR in 113 games, hitting .270/.385/.559 with 33 homers, 21 doubles, and a career-best .289 isolated power.
As such, Donaldson knows other teams will come calling this offseason. Earlier this week, in fact, it was reported that the St. Louis Cardinals are expected to strongly pursue the 31-year-old this winter. This, Donaldson said, comes with the territory.
"It's not fun being involved in trade rumors," he admitted. "I believe in this team. I believe in this organization and I enjoy my time here. That's definitely not something that I like to think about but on the other side of it, I understand it. I feel like if you're to ask all 29 other teams, they'd probably say, yeah they'd want to be pretty interested in me as well. That's my take on it."