The circumstances behind the recent trade between the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays, in relation to Josh Donaldson, has many wondering if it was on the up and up. Both the Boston Red Sox as well as the New York Yankees have “voiced displeasure” to Major League Baseball about the August 31 trade. The Houston Astros also asked the commissioner’s office why MLB allowed Cleveland and Toronto to complete the deal. What is the issue, exactly? According to a report, it’s unclear the health status of Donaldson, who hasn’t played in the majors since May 28, due to a calf injury. The former American League MVP began a minor league rehab assignment on Aug. 29 and was placed on revocable trade waivers by the Blue Jays that same day. He was traded to Cleveland just before the Aug. 31 deadline, meaning he is eligible to play for the Indians in the postseason.
There is a rule in the MLB which stipulates that a player must be certified as healthy in order to be placed on trade waivers. This is what isn’t clear about the Donaldson case. Donaldson, however, agreed that he was healthy after the MLB Players Association got involved, which is why Toronto was allowed to place him on waivers. Donaldson still has not appeared in a game for the Indians and was placed back on the 10-day disabled list on Sept. 3, starting another minor league rehab assignment. But Indians manager Terry Francona said on Monday that Donaldson will be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday and will be in the lineup against the Rays.
Some are making light of the trade, indicating that he somehow managed to reinjure himself while on the plane heading to Cleveland. What does make this whole thing interesting is that Donaldson himself knew that he wasn’t healthy enough to play on August 29. His concern is that if he did play, he would reinjure his calf, which could potentially harm his value as a free agent next winter. This is all fine and well, but then why not stay with Toronto for the time being? The whole deal feels a bit shady.
According to the report, Donaldson’s agent contacted the players’ union, which contacted the MLB to communicate Donaldson’s concerns. A league official then contacted potentially interested teams to notify them of Donaldson’s health concerns. Donaldson went unclaimed on waivers and was ultimately traded to the Indians, who met with the veteran third baseman after the deal to evaluate his health.
The whole thing seems shady as it gives Cleveland the ability to bring Donaldson in during the postseason. Which, some could argue, would give Cleveland an advantage. What’s not clear is how this is playing out with the other teams. Three teams that we know of seem concerned about this particular trade and even though there was a response by Major League Baseball, it still doesn’t really answer the question. All of that said, Donaldson is expected to play today, and that’s why there are so many questions.