Third baseman Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday broke the record for the highest salary among players eligible for arbitration, reaching agreement on a one-year deal for $23 million, a source told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, confirming multiple reports. Not signing the 32-year-old to a long-term extension will allow him to walk in free agency this winter.
The Donaldson deal is a record, the previous record for an arbitration-eligible player was Bryce Harper's $21.625 million for the 2018 season. Toronto seems intent on keeping Donaldson heading into the season, but he'll be a hot trade candidate in July if they fall out of contention. The 2016 AL ERA leader was projected to earn $1.9 million in 2018 after a disappointing 2017 season and the lingering blister issues. Still, he managed to hit 33 home runs and drive in 78 runs in under 500 plate appearances.
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Josh Donaldson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates after hitting a home run against the Boston Red Sox during the third inning at Fenway Park on September 26, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts.
This was the final year of arbitration eligibility for Donaldson, who made $17 million last year. "I wasn't really in a lot of the talks, but definitely I'm happy".
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President Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins have come out and said that they are not looking to move Donaldson as they want to be competitive despite the New York Yankees loading up in the offseason.
With Sanchez and Travis now settled, the only players that the Blue Jays haven't settled with on a deal to avoid arbitration are closer Roberto Osuna, center fielder Kevin Pillar, reliever Dominic Leone, and Marcus Stroman.
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