Yankees headed toward another bewildering Josh Donaldson decision

josh donaldson, yankees
Jun 2, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (28) celebrates after hitting a solo home run in the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite all attempts by the New York Yankees to distance themselves from Josh Donaldson, the 37-year-old infielder won’t go away.

After being diagnosed with a significant calf strain several weeks ago—a condition expected to end his 2023 season—Donaldson is astonishingly on the road to recovery. He’s headed toward a rehab assignment, making his potential return to gameplay a shocking reality the team is now grappling with.

“Yeah, he’s working towards a potential rehab assignment sometime soon,” Boone said several days ago. “It’s definitely a possibility.”

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A Career Low in 2022

Donaldson had a disastrous 2022 season, clocking some of the most disappointing offensive metrics of his career. With a .222 batting average, a .308 OBP, and only 15 homers and 62 RBIs to his name, Donaldson finished the season with a 98 wRC+. Although he remains solid at third base, he’s been a glaring weakness in the Yankees’ batting lineup.

The Unwanted Gift that Keeps on Giving

His presence on the Yankees roster has been something of an ongoing nightmare. Donaldson was a disruptive force in the Twins’ clubhouse, according to reports from his time with Minnesota.

Still, Yankees’ General Manager Brian Cashman went ahead and acquired him, adding the two remaining years and $50 million on his contract to the Yankees’ payroll. Many believe the Twins must have been chuckling all the way to the negotiation table, viewing the trade as another blunder by Cashman.

Rehab and the Last Weeks of the Season

Donaldson’s impending rehab assignment would make him available for the final weeks of the season. In the 34 games he’s played this year, he’s hit a paltry .142 with a .225 OBP, accompanied by 10 homers and a 75 wRC+.

Financial Implications: A $6 Million Albatross

The Yankees are obligated to pay Donaldson $6 million in 2024 as part of a converted mutual buyout option. In the eyes of most fans, this would be money well spent if it meant Donaldson would no longer be part of the team.

“He’s getting close to being in a rehab situation and he’s doing all the work to put himself in that position,” Boone said.

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Young Prospects Over Veterans: The Right Strategy

It’s worth noting that the Yankees’ focus should be on their young prospects rather than veterans like Donaldson, who aren’t expected to be with the team next year. The smart play would be to give Oswald Peraza more opportunities for MLB at-bats to prepare for the 2024 season.

The Yankees Cannot Play Donaldson Again

Should Donaldson return to play even a single inning this year after his injury, it would confound fans and analysts alike, leaving many in bewilderment.