CLEVELAND — The Indians have acquired veteran third baseman and 2015 American League MVP Josh Donaldson in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Reports surfaced Friday night that a deal had been struck and the Indians confirmed the move minutes before the midnight waiver-wire trade deadline.
Cleveland will send a player to be named later to Toronto, with the Blue Jays reportedly picking up $2.7 million of the remaining $4 million of Donaldson’s 2018 salary.
The three-time All-Star has been limited to 36 games this season due to injuries, most notably a left calf issue. He had a setback during a rehab assignment in June and had just begun another rehab stint.
Donaldson, who is batting .234 with five homers and 16 RBIs, was in the lineup Friday before being removed prior to a minor league game.
The Indians were rumored to have interest in Donaldson in the days leading up to the trade, but it wasn’t clear where the third baseman would fit.
After confirming the trade, team president Chris Antonetti said Donaldson would play third when he’s ready to join the team. He will likely continue his rehab assignment with a Cleveland minor league affiliate until then.
If Donaldson takes over at third, MVP candidate Jose Ramirez is expected to move to second base, leaving a struggling Jason Kipnis as the odd man out unless he shifts to center field, as he did at the end of last year.
Manager Terry Francona said earlier this week he was reluctant to move Ramirez.
If healthy, Donaldson brings a big bat to the lineup. From 2015-17, he hit .285, averaging 37 homers per year.
The acquisition is yet another significant late-season move by Cleveland’s front office, which acquired left-hander Andrew Miller at the trading deadline in 2016 and Jay Bruce in a waiver-wire trade last year. The Indians already landed All-Star closer Brad Hand at the deadline this season.
“Hats off to them,” right-hander Cody Allen said. “For the last few years, they’ve done everything in their power to put this team in a position to win baseball games. They haven’t failed yet. Pretty much every guy that has stepped foot in this clubhouse at the deadline or in the offseason has come in and produced in big ways. So if they’re making a move for somebody, regardless of who it is, they’re going to come in here and are going to help.”
Edwin Encarnacion was a teammate of Donaldson’s in Toronto before joining the Indians prior to last year.
“He’s a great player, man,” Encarnacion said of Donaldson. “Knowing him from the Jays, everybody’s gonna be excited to see him here.”
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