Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays Agree to Record-Setting Contract to Avoid Arbitration

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 12, 2018

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 30:  Josh Donaldson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 30, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 2-1.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Toronto Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson reportedly agreed to a one-year, $23 million contract on Friday that is the richest ever for an arbitration-eligible player, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.  

Bryce Harper set the previous record for an arbitration-eligible player when he signed a $21.65 million deal with the Washington Nationals for the 2018 season. 

Donaldson, 32, didn't appear headed for a historic payday after he was limited to 45 appearances over the first half of the season because of a calf injury. 

However, the 2015 American League MVP rebounded and slashed .276/.386/.606 with 24 home runs and 53 RBI after the All-Star break to finish the year with 33 dingers and 78 RBI. 

According to FanGraphs, Donaldson ranks second behind Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout with 28 wins above replacement over the last four seasons. His 140 home runs also rank first among third basemen during that stretch. 

If Donaldson is able to stay healthy in 2018, he should be in prime position to secure a lucrative long-term deal when he becomes a free agent once his fourth year with the Blue Jays wraps up. 

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