Yankees’ overpriced infielder unsure if he’ll even play in 2024

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

The New York Yankees might have had higher hopes if veteran infielder Josh Donaldson had retired before the 2023 season began. Despite his hefty $21 million salary, his performance this season hasn’t justified the expenditure.

Donaldson’s performance last season was underwhelming, with a .222 batting average and a .308 on-base percentage (OBP), contributing 15 home runs and 16 RBIs. His 97 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) is the lowest since his 2012 stint with the Oakland Athletics when he played 75 games.

Yankees’ Manager, Aaron Boone, was optimistic that Donaldson would rebound this season. However, his current .151 average, .233 OBP, and 91 wRC+ tell a different story.

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Uncertain Future for Josh Donaldson

Donaldson’s future in baseball is far from clear. His commitment to continuing beyond the current season remains uncertain, especially considering his ongoing struggles.

“I don’t know,” Donaldson told The Athletic on Sunday. “It kind of just depends on how I feel going through this year and this season and all of that and talking to my family. But that’s really — I get asked that from not just you, but from other people.”

His wealth is not a concern, as he’s earned enough to live comfortably for several lifetimes. The critical factor in his decision seems to be his motivation to continue playing and maintaining his competitive edge.

Defending the Lack of Performance

Despite hitting six home runs in 17 games and boasting a .491 slugging percentage, Donaldson has defended his underperformance this year. His hard-hit rate is above his career averages at 51.4%, and a 24.3% barrel rate, despite a high 28.3% strikeout rate and a small sample size, is among the best numbers of his career.

“I’ve hit a lot of balls hard,” he said. “Unfortunately, some of them haven’t fallen at the moment. … I feel really good about where I’m at, and I haven’t really gotten to the point where I’m playing every day.”

Despite his continued power stroke, his plate discipline has seen a decline, leading to mental lapses that might otherwise put him in the proverbial doghouse.

Despite these issues, Boone continues to trust Donaldson, even with the rising talent of Oswald Peraza dominating in Triple-A, ready and eager for promotion.