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Josh Donaldson Retires After 13 Big League Seasons

Josh Donaldson makes a throw during a home game for the Toronto Blue Jays.

On Monday, Donaldson announced that he would be calling it quits after 13 big league seasons and an MVP award.

MVP and three-time All-Star 3B Josh Donaldson announced his retirement from baseball on Monday, March 4. This decision came during an interview with Sean Casey on his podcast “The Mayor’s Office with Sean Casey”.

The veteran spent 13 seasons with seven different organizations including the Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Guardians, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees.

Today was a sad but also a happy day for me to where I am going to announce my retirement from the game that I’ve dedicated my entire life around,” Donaldson stated. “It’s sad because I’ll be not able to go out there and play the game that I love anymore. But it’s also a very happy time that I get to be around the family and kind of take that next chapter in life.”

His Best Years

When it comes to thinking about the best season he had put on display, there are so many different ones to choose from. The best season he pulled off came back in 2015 when he was with the Blue Jays. Donaldson smashed a career-high for home runs (41) as well as runs (122), RBIs (123) and total bases (352). Even better, he joined George Bell (1987) as the only Toronto player to win MVP honors. Not to mention, Donaldson also became the sixth third basemen to win the honors joining Miguel Cabrera (twice), Alex Rodriguez (twice), Brooks Robinson, George Brett and Al Rosen.

Those numbers even paved the way for the Blue Jays to clinch their first AL East division title since 1993. Without Donaldson’s bat, Toronto wouldn’t have been anywhere near the playoffs. Unfortunately, the team was eliminated by the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS.

2016 also deserves an honorable mention as one of his best seasons. During that season he earned himself Silver Slugger award honors. He became the fifth Blue Jay to win the award in back-to-back seasons. He joins José Bautista (2010-11), George Bell (1985-87), Joe Carter (1991-1992) and Carlos Delgado (1999-2000) as the only ones to accomplish this feat. The reason Donaldson earned himself that honor again is due to another productive season. During that season he managed to slash .284/.404/.549 along with 37 homers, 99 RBIs, and 122 runs scored. There is no doubt Donaldson was one of the best hitters around during his prime.

His Decline Years

As the old saying goes, nothing lasts forever. Well, eventually we saw Donaldson reach the point where he started to decline once he reaches his late 30s. That all started once he agreed to a $92 million, four-year contract with the Twins in 2020, which was the richest free agent deal in franchise history. His first season in Twins uniform was OK. He hit well in 2020 but only played in 28 games. Donaldson was a key part of the Twins lineup in 2021 while appearing in 135 games, but he turned out to be a “toxic” player in the locker room in many different ways.

Ultimately, Minnesota traded him to the Yankees as a reason for salary dump. As part of the trade, the Yankees received UTL Isiah Kiner-Falefa and C Ben Rortvedt. On the other end, the Twins received 3B Gio Urshela and C Gary Sanchez as part of the trade return. The trade did not age well for the Yankees (or for the Twins, for that matter). Fans were not pleased with the idea of general manager Brian Cashman going all in for a player like Donaldson who was already in his decline.

Fans also did not enjoy how he cost crucial games for the team to win during the 2023 season. His errors and weak bat contributed to the Yankees missing the postseason for the first time since 2016. He would eventually be cut by the team before a game against the Detroit Tigers. He would only play 34 games while slashing .142/.225/.434 with 10 home runs and 15 RBIs. Donaldson signed on with the Brewers and showed marginal improvement down the stretch. Overall, this was nightmare trade for the trade who had to watch this player struggle for two years with the Yankees.

His Flashy Glove

Despite the unceremonious end, you cannot forget how good defensively Donaldson was back in his prime days. He earned himself a Fielding Bible Award, which is something similar to a Gold Glove but more precisely uses advanced metrics. This honor was earned back in 2014 during his time with the Oakland Athletics. Donaldson led all MLB third basemen with 20 Defensive Runs Saved. Here’s another interesting stat: Donaldson also owns a high number of “Good Fielding Plays” (GFP) with a total of 77, according to Sports Info Solutions. That is more than what Nolan Arenado has earned, which is 64. Donaldson would go on to beat Arenado in the voting process by 10 points. Even better, Donaldson was also a Gold Glove finalist back in 2014. Unfortunately, he would lose to former Seattle Mariner Kyle Seager in the race for the award.

Donaldson finishes his career the aforementioned MVP award, three All-Star Games, and two Silver Sluggers. He racked up 1310 hits, 279 home runs, and 46.8 career WAR.

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