Yankees’ $50 million trade bust bids farewell after being cut

josh donaldson, yankees
Jun 11, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (28) reacts after hitting a deep fly ball for an out against the Boston Red Sox during the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees finally made the call to release Josh Donaldson from their active roster this Tuesday. Currently rehabilitating from a calf strain, Donaldson could make a comeback as early as September. But if he does, it won’t be in a Yankees uniform.

Donaldson’s Underwhelming Tenure and Upcoming Financial Hit for the Yankees

Donaldson’s two-year stint with the Bombers was anything but awe-inspiring. He not only posted dismal numbers but also found himself embroiled in a series of controversies. Donaldson’s presence in the dugout was less than popular, both among teammates and fans. The Yankees were at the point where keeping him would mean stealing crucial at-bats from rising young talents like Oswald Peraza, Oswaldo Cabrera, and Everson Pereira.

Financially, this decision also carries weight. The Yankees are on the hook for a $6 million buyout next year, plus some remaining weeks of his 2023 salary. When you tally it up, they’ve shelled out approximately $50 million for a lackluster performance: a .207 batting average, .293 OBP, .385 SLG, 25 home runs, and a .678 OPS.

Donaldson did, however, exit with grace, taking to Twitter to extend his thanks to the organization.

“I’d like to say thank you to everyone for the love and support over the years !! I’ve had the opportunity to play with some great teammates and organizations. I wish nothing but the best to the New York Yankees,” he tweeted.

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High Hopes Dashed: The Failed Trade Experiment

When the Yankees dealt Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela in a trade to acquire Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt before the 2022 season, expectations were high. The Yankees had their eyes on a prize—specifically, a couple of productive seasons from the 2015 AL MVP. After all, Donaldson had boasted an impressive .827 OPS and 26 home runs in 2021 during his time with the Minnesota Twins.

Unfortunately, things went south. Donaldson’s performance began its downward trajectory last year, which continued into 2023. Hampered by hamstring and calf injuries this year, he didn’t fare any better when he was actually on the field, managing a disappointing .142 batting average, .225 OBP, .434 SLG, 10 home runs, 15 RBI, and a .659 OPS.

Moving On: The End of the Donaldson Era

With the chapter on Donaldson’s Yankees career now abruptly closed, all parties will go their separate ways. The Yankees’ focus shifts to a roster brimming with youthful prospects, while Donaldson will presumably seek a new home to revive his baseball fortunes.