Yankees’ controversial third baseman announces retirement after 13-year career

MLB: ALCS-Cleveland Indians at Toronto Blue Jays
Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees were a footnote to forget in the illustrious career of Josh Donaldson, who came up with the Oakland Athletics before fully breaking out with the Toronto Blue Jays. His career peak came in 2015 when he took home the American League MVP, clubbing 41 home runs and posting a 154 wRC+. He announced his retirement on Sean Casey’s ‘The Mayor’s Office’ podcast, where he reflected on his entire career including the time he had in New York, as he now transitions back to a life where he can be around his family more often.

It wasn’t surprising to learn that Donaldson, who posted a 78 wRC+ in 50 games with the Yankees and Brewers last season, would finally step away from baseball, but nothing was formally announced until today.

Josh Donaldson Retires After Rocky Stint With Yankees

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees
Jul 5, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (28) reacts after hitting a solo home run against the Baltimore Orioles during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Right before the 2022 season, the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins agreed to a trade that stunned many, as Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa would head to the Bronx to fill out the left side of their infield. The three-time All-Star was coming off of a season with the Twins where he crushed 26 home runs with a .352 OBP, and he’d look to supercharge the middle of a Yankees’ lineup that grew stale in 2021. While the team certainly took a step forward offensively, Donaldson experienced a heavy regression, drawing the ire of fans and media alike.

It was a disaster of a tenure in New York, and while things didn’t go the way he wanted with the Yankees, it doesn’t discount what was an excellent career. Across 13 years at the Major League level, Josh Donaldson collected 46.8 bWAR and smashed 279 home runs across 1,383 games, finishing as one of the best third basemen of the 21st Century. He’s a hero in Toronto and Oakland, where he was a middle-of-the-order threat for some playoff-bound teams, including a five-year run where he posted the second-most fWAR in baseball (33.6) and had a 148 wRC+.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays
May 24, 2018; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third base Josh Donaldson (20) hits a single during the regular season MLB game between the Los Angeles Angels and Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports

His tenure in New York was one to forget, and that came with off-field controversy such as when he referred to Tim Anderson as ‘Jackie’, a reoccurring theme that followed Donaldson in his career. There was always whispering about his abrasive personality on the field, but the challenges he overcame during his childhood created an edge that he competed with for better or worse. The legacy that Josh Donaldson has in baseball will always be stained by what happened with the Yankees, but time will likely heal those wounds.

There were some rumors about Donaldson retiring as early as Spring Training last year, where he contemplated what his future beyond 2023 would look like. Father time seemed to just catch up to Josh Donaldson, as it does to any athlete, and unfortunately, it occurred as soon as he landed in New York. The Yankees are still paying a small amount of cash (relative to their payroll) for his buyout, but he’s formally done with professional baseball. He also revealed that he recently got married, so this will finally be his chance to be a father and husband full-time without the strain of an MLB season.

Mentioned in this article:

More about: