Yesterday afternoon Josh Donaldson had what was arguably his worst game ever in a Blue Jays uniform. It wasn’t on account of him going 0-3 and looking overmatched at the plate, but because every single ball hit to him at 3rd base he managed to botch.
In his very last year with the Blue Jays back in 1995, it wasn’t hard to see that come seasons end, Roberto Alomar was as good as gone. That year the Blue Jays went 56-88, and in an effort to have one last kick at the can, they decided to hold onto pending free agents like Alomar, Devon White, Paul Molitor, and Al Leiter. Rather than trade away these players (or at least a few of them) and get something in return before they hit free agency, Toronto kept the team together and ended up having one of the worst years in franchise history.
Heading into the 2018 season, the Blue Jays front office faced a similar situation to what the team had in 1995. Mark Shapiro wanted Toronto to be as competitive as possible this year, which is why they decided to hold onto Donaldson despite him being a free agent at the conclusion of the season. To watch Donaldson play this year, it’s almost as if he knows he won’t be back. The Blue Jays have the best prospect in baseball, who also happens to play 3rd base. Plus Toronto surely won’t be willing to pay top dollar for a player turning 33 in December.
Any ball club with a starting catcher who’s hitting .152, a starting shortstop who can’t stay healthy, and a DH who’s currently one of the worst hitters in baseball is going to struggle to win ball games. It’s made even more challenging to build a winner around such players considering that this catcher, shortstop, and DH are the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th highest paid players on the club.
Much like in 1995 when the Blue Jays tried in vain to recreate the glory days of ’92 and ’93, the 2018 Blue Jays felt they could once again be the sort of team they were in ’15 and ’16 when Toronto made it to the ALCS in consecutive years. Sadly, it’s not going to happen. The time to move on from those successful teams of a few years back has come, and the sooner the Blue Jays realize this the better.