The Toronto Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson will avoid arbitration with a record-setting deal.
According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, the Toronto Blue Jays and All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson have agreed to terms on deal to avoid arbitration. While the club has not yet confirmed the terms of the one-year deal, Davidi’s source reports that the deal is for $23 million. If the figure is indeed correct, it will set a new record for arbitration-eligible players.
Donaldson is one year away from free agency, and the high salary will help set his market next winter. The 2015 American League MVP is coming off a relatively underwhelming year by his own high standards, and was limited to only 113 games by multiple injuries. Donaldson hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and 78 RBI as the Jays slumped and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
It’s possible Donaldson could have received even more if he had taken his case to arbitration. Over the past three years with the Blue Jays, he is a .285/.387/.559 hitter with 111 home runs and 300 RBI. He has also been a plus defender at third base.
The reported $23-million figure blows the old record for position players out of the water. Prince Fielder settled with the Milwaukee Brewers for $15.5 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility. David Price’s $19.75 million with the Detroit Tigers in his final year before free agency stood as the all-time record for pitchers or hitters. It should be noted that Bryce Harper’s final year of arbitration was bought out by the Washington Nationals for $21.65 million last May.
Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is another high-profile player in his final year of arbitration. He, too, is coming off a down year, but should see a huge bump in salary. Machado and Donaldson share an agent. The Orioles have taken on a file-and-trial approach to their arbitration cases in recent years, and the deadline to reach an agreement is Friday.