Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson is nearing a return from a nagging calf injury, which is welcome news for the front office as it tries to deal the former American League MVP before the August waiver deadline.
The Blue Jays hope that Donaldson is able to begin a rehab assignment next week, with the intention of then placing him on trade waivers once he's able to return to the majors, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred.
Sidelined since May 29, Donaldson posted a video Thursday of him running the bases with the caption: "Getting closer!!"
The 32-year-old is in the final season of his contract and the Blue Jays would prefer to get something for him as it's not believed the front office plans to issue him a qualifying offer this offseason, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. The risk for the Blue Jays is that Donaldson would accept the one-year offer - which is believed to be just north of $17.4 million - in order to rebuild his value. With Toronto rebuilding, they would rather have third base open for top prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr., while committing those financial resources elsewhere.
Trading Donaldson this month is more complicated than it would have been prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. Once the Blue Jays place Donaldson on revocable waivers, teams have the option to claim him. The process of claiming players works in reverse order of the standings, with the worst teams having the first opportunity. It's expected that Donaldson would clear waivers due to the roughly $5 million remaining on his deal. Should he clear, the Blue Jays have the option to work out a trade with any team that is interested. If Donaldson were to get claimed, the Blue Jays could work out a deal with that team, allow that team to claim him for nothing other than taking on his salary, or choose to keep Donaldson for the remainder of the season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs - depending on the injury to Kris Bryant - are all playoff contenders that could have interest in Donaldson.
Donaldson is two seasons removed from his last All-Star appearance and has been slowed dramatically by injuries this season. He is hitting .234/.333/.423 with five home runs, 11 doubles and 16 RBIs in 36 games.