In one of the most active August waiver deadlines in recent memory, 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson is on the move after being dealt to the Cleveland Indians. Donaldson is a free agent-to-be at the end of the year, and has spent most of the 2018 season on the disabled list with a calf injury, as well as shoulder inflammation earlier in the year.
What the Indians have essentially done here is trade for potential. In 159 plate appearances this season, Donaldson has hit .234 with a .757 OPS, 5 homers, 11 doubles and 16 RBI in 36 games. Those are not even remotely indicative of the type of player that Donaldson is when he’s healthy. The question now, of course, is how healthy is he today on August 31?
Not healthy enough to join a major league roster. He’s played in two rehab games to this point and hasn’t played in a major league game since late May, so the Indians are well aware that whatever they get from Donaldson in the month of September is likely a bonus. If Tribe fans are being realistic here, the expectations for Donaldson should be very, very low.
That’s not a knock on him, obviously. But this would be quite the comeback story if he had his entire season marred by injuries, returned to join a first-place Indians team and went on a tear to help them throughout the postseason. But that also begs the question of where does he fit? If everybody’s healthy, you have a 2018 MVP candidate in Jose Ramirez at third base, and the highest paid player on the team at DH in Edwin Encarnacion.
Perhaps the Indians roll the dice on Donaldson at third base, which allows Ramirez to move back to second base, and then Jason Kipnis can go back into the outfield. The Indians are tied for 22nd out of 30 major league teams in outfield OPS (.719). If Donaldson can get himself healthy, this could prove to be a HUGE boost for the Indians offense. And if he can’t get healthy, then it’s really no harm, no foul.
I’m sure Tribe fans wish they had a Cleveland blogger to get this story up on the site at 10:45pm on a Friday night, but I’ve got you covered.