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Former Twin Josh Donaldson had his name in the news for all the wrong reasons this weekend. Even with his on-field successes, it’s clear that the Twins were correct in moving on from Donaldson.

Over the weekend, Josh Donaldson was involved in an altercation with Chicago's Tim Anderson. Donaldson allegedly called Anderson "Jackie," a reference to Jackie Robinson, that he thought was an inside joke between the two players. Major League Baseball investigated the incident, which involves multiple layers, and suspended Donaldson for one game. During his Twins tenure, Donaldson made headlines for multiple incidents, including calling out Gerrit Cole for his use of sticky substances and an ejection after hitting a home run.  

Originally, the Twins signed Donaldson as a veteran presence on a team in the middle of their winning window. Across two seasons, he hit .243/.355/.474 (.829) with a 129 OPS+ in 163 games. During the playoffs following the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Donaldson wasn't available, and the Twins were terrible in 2021. He was entering his age-36 season, and the front office found a way to get out from under his contract. 

On March 13, the Twins finalized a deal that sent Donaldson to the Yankees along with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt. In return, Minnesota received Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela. All five players projected to be in each team's plans for the entire 2022 season, but baseball doesn't always work out that way. 

Yankees Acquisitions: Donaldson (1.6 WAR), Kiner-Falefa (0.3 WAR), Rortvedt (60-day IL)
When making a trade, teams usually don't like to surrender the best player involved in the deal. Minnesota clearly did that as Donaldson is having a tremendous season as the Yankees sit five games up in the AL East. Age doesn't seem to be catching up to Donaldson, as he has a 126 OPS+ for the fourth consecutive season. Defensively, he is also having a resurgence as he ranks in the 81st percentile for Outs Above Average (OAA). Even with this kind of production, Donaldson has other baggage that some teams want to avoid. It remains to be seen if he can keep up this production through a 162-game schedule. 

Kiner-Falefa never appeared in a game for the Twins after being acquired from the Rangers as part of the Mitch Garver trade. So far this season, he has hit .264/.317/.312 (.629) with an 88 OPS+, which is seven points higher than his career mark. His Whiff% is in the 95th percentile, and his OAA (6th percentile) is one of the lowest marks among shortstops. Rortvedt underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery and may not be available until after the All-Star break. 

Twins Acquisitions: Sánchez (0.4 WAR), Urshela (0.1 WAR)
A couple of weeks ago, Ted examined Minnesota's acquisitions from the Donaldson trade. Both players had yet to make a significant mark on the team, but those results may slowly change in the Twins' favor. Sánchez has surprised in multiple ways as he has an OPS+ of over 110 for the first time since he was an All-Star in 2019. He has also improved his framing metrics as he ranks in the 64th percentile, his highest mark since 2018. According to Win Probability Added, Sánchez ranks fourth on the Twins hitters behind Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Luis Arraez

In 2019 and 2020, Urshela hit .310/.359/.523 (.881) with a 134 OPS+, and that's the player the Twins were hoping to unlock. So far in 2022, he has been closer to the 2021 version of Urshela that posted a 96 OPS+ in 116 games. His K% is in the 91st percentile, and he provides little defensive value with an OAA in the 11th percentile. Over his last 100 plate appearances, his xwOBA has been above the league average, so there may still be hope for him breaking out of his offensive slump. 

At the end of the day, it's clear the Twins wanted to be "out of the Josh Donaldson business." His on-the-field performance outweighs the value the Twins got in return, but his other antics can rub a clubhouse the wrong way. Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa provide a different kind of leadership for the Twins, and Minnesota is better off with him off the roster. 

What are your thoughts as you look back on the Donaldson trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 


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If you look just at on field performance you would say it was a bad trade.  However, no way do we make the deal without expecting to sign a SS, like they did Correa.  Maybe they do, but I doubt it.  I agree getting Donaldson out of the clubhouse may be an upside.  The Yankees are doing fine with him there, but maybe the honeymoon period is starting to end with recent White Sox series, which they are now on a 3 game losing streak. 

I have long said that in baseball chemistry plays a much bigger roll than any other sport.  You spend all day every day with the same guys for hopefully 8 months.  You get no weekends away from them, you shower with them, change with them, fly with them, take busses to games with them on the road, not sure if they will still share hotel rooms or not.  My point is you do not get away from them.  If you have a personal issue with someone it will eventually cause issues. We have seen teams in past have fist fights during the season.  Do not be surprised if Yankess start to struggle if they blow up at some point too. 

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Sadly, I think Donaldson deflated his club and stirred up the CWS at the exact wrong time for us. Thanks a lot, Josh. We could've been six games up by now. :)

So far, the WAR story says the Yankees won this trade. But I really enjoy having Sanchez and Urshela on this team, and I think they will both help with a WC run. Maybe even an AL Central title run. 

Bring on the Yankees series. Let's see what we've got.

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"Donaldson allegedly called Anderson "Jackie," a reference to Jackie Robinson, that he thought was an inside joke between the two players."

Donaldson didn't think this was an inside joke. And I'm a bit disgusted at the media reports that gave him inches of space allowing him to make this allegation. Donaldson and Anderson aren't friends. They don't joke around.  Dondaldson is attempting to gaslight the press into thinking that this is just on-field chatter and not blatant racist harassment. 

The Twins would have been better off without him ever playing on the team. They might not have been good last year, but I'd be willing to bet they'd be a lot better than they were. Who hasn't experienced a toxic work or school environment at least once in their lives? You know what that does to your morale. He probably had one or two other sidekicks egging him on too. Combine that with a losing record, these guys were probably just hoping for the season to end faster, or that they'd get traded. 

The Yankees can keep him. Better yet, they could just DFA him. They'd probably be a better team. 

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Doesn't the trade of Donaldson really include Mitch Garver to some degree as well?  The Twins couldn't get Kiner-Falefa without giving up Garver so in the end the trade was. Garver, Kiner-Falefa, Rortvedt and Donalson for Sanchez, Urshela and Henriquez? I don't think you can completely leave the loss of Garver out of that trade IMO.  That seems like a lot to give up to get rid of Donaldson.

Personally I think the Twins were closer to using Royce Lewis at short to start the season or maybe even Palacios than we might realize.  Story was pretty set to go to Boston and it looked like Boras shopped Correa before coming to the Twins who were one of very few teams desperate enough to get something done there.

It all worked remarkably well and maybe you could add Correa in the trade scenario above as the Twins wouldn't have the money to sign him without moving on from Donaldson but getting Correa feels more like luck than any real kind of FO plan as they looked like only team left that hadn't filled their massive shortstop need.

I like the Twins clubhouse and given the reports I have seen so do the players.

 

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I try to give credit where credit's due. Donaldson was right about sticky substances and I'm glad he spoke up and was annoying about them.

That said, I've never met the guy, but I always thought it was misguided to value Donaldson for his "fire." "Fire" on its own is not useful. I've seen instances of Donaldson getting mad at other players for playing badly, but I've never seen any evidence that it helped them play better.

I've seen Donaldson's role on the team compared to that of Patrick Beverly on the Timberwolves. Pat Bev is abrasive and outspoken like Donaldson, but he also has his teammates' trust and knows how to bring out the best in them. Maybe Donaldson has that ability, but I haven't seen it, and I think it's a lot more likely that his brand of "fire" just stresses everyone out.

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I don't know how much stock anybody else puts into stuff like this, but I did notice that members of the media were saying nice things/wishing luck to guys like Taylor Rogers and Mitch Garver when they were traded this spring. Not a peep about JD.

Oh, and he got testy at Luis Arraez last season. I know he is a grown man, and maybe JD had a point, but Luis seems like the happiest person on the planet who shouldn't be yelled at.

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I know Urshela and Sanchez only have a .5 WAR between them but it sure feels like they have contributed more than that.   There is WAR as a statistical construct and I have faith in that in the long run but then there is WAR as an abstract and these guys seem to shine lately in that category.   Two game winning hits in consecutive games does little for the WAR statistic.

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10 minutes ago, shortround81 said:

I don't know how much stock anybody else puts into stuff like this, but I did notice that members of the media saying nice things/wishing luck to guys like Taylor Rogers and Mitch Garver when they were traded this spring. Not a peep about JD.

Oh, and he got testy at Luis Arraez last season. I know he is a grown man, and maybe JD had a point, but Luis seems like the happiest person on the planet who shouldn't be yelled at.

Knowing Arraez and the kind of person he is, nothing would warrant being berated or yelled at, especially by someone like Donaldson. Donaldson is the same guy who got ejected from a game after kicking dirt on the plate following a homerun so I can't take him too seriously when it comes to sportsmanship and trying to be a clubhouse leader. 

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3 minutes ago, rwilfong86 said:

Knowing Arraez and the kind of person he is, nothing would warrant being berated or yelled at, especially by someone like Donaldson. Donaldson is the same guy who got ejected from a game after kicking dirt on the plate following a homerun so I can't take him too seriously when it comes to sportsmanship and trying to be a clubhouse leader. 

Right? If a person moving affects your concentration at the plate, maybe JD should try a new profession. Like, public relations. 😛

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Would concur it was wise to move Donaldson for a number of reasons, including his impact in the clubhouse. With that said his suspension is beyond ridiculous. Anderson, in print, compared himself to Jackie Robinson and for that he should have been roundly criticized. While the two players share an African American heritage in what universe did he face the same challenges achieving big league success as those encountered by Mr. Robinson and I have no doubt Mr. Anderson's comments were scoffed at in clubhouses across MLB. JD simply decided to use it as ammunition for a little trash talking. That's gamesmanship (if perhaps ill-advised) but it certainly is NOT racism.  This is just another example of political correctness run amok, Personally I thought the Twins paying homage to a convicted felon on the outfield wall was offensive (hint-I tune in to escape the divisive world of politics). And as soon as MLB made the unwarranted move to take the AS Game out of Atlanta the Braves became my rooting favorite to win it all. Karma!

 

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Dman  4,908

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Posted 1 hour ago

"Doesn't the trade of Donaldson really include Mitch Garver to some degree as well?  The Twins couldn't get Kiner-Falefa without giving up Garver so in the end the trade was. Garver, Kiner-Falefa, Rortvedt and Donalson for Sanchez, Urshela and Henriquez? I don't think you can completely leave the loss of Garver out of that trade IMO.  That seems like a lot to give up to get rid of Donaldson"

The way I look at in total, after all the trades and signings, the Twins gave up Garver, Donaldson and Rortvedt to receive Sanchez, Urshela and Henriquez and freed up enough money to sign Correa.  Kiner-Falefa was a trade chip received and the traded.  From my point view as of today, this is a win for the Twins.

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Man...I know this much.  It really stinks to read such negative takes on Donaldson for his time here.  I mean calling him a cancer?  Really?  Posted by people that never had an opportunity to meet him, get to talk to him or have ANY credible resources.  His teammates respect him and dissagree with your opinion  But you must be right @wilfong86 and many others.  Does this make you feel better about yourself?  

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1 hour ago, rwilfong86 said:

Knowing Arraez and the kind of person he is, nothing would warrant being berated or yelled at, especially by someone like Donaldson. Donaldson is the same guy who got ejected from a game after kicking dirt on the plate following a homerun so I can't take him too seriously when it comes to sportsmanship and trying to be a clubhouse leader. 

Soooo....you must know Arraez pretty well?  

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Donaldson made $10m more than the second highest paid player on the Twins in 2021. In New York, he's got several other highly paid vets on the team. Donaldson being the main force behind getting MLB to take foreign substances seriously combined with his perceived clout must have been awkward in the clubhouse. It had me wondering last year if his dialing up the criticism and the sudden up and down ineffectiveness of the pitching staff was more than a correlation. 
 

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As much as I have been critical of this front office, even I don't think they were expecting to get fair value in terms of production. There had to be method to their madness. As Mr. Christie stated above, this was all about unloading Donaldson. So why did they do it? I suspect we'll never know the full story of what went down during that weekend of trades until someone spills the juicy details in an attempt to sell their biography ten years from now. Anything else is complete speculation.

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3 minutes ago, LewFordLives said:

I suspect we'll never know the full story of what went down during that weekend of trades until someone spills the juicy details in an attempt to sell their biography ten years from now. 

Like what Erin Henderson did on Twitter with Percy Harvin and Leslie Frazier 

bill-hader-popcorn.gif

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3 hours ago, Muppet said:

"Donaldson allegedly called Anderson "Jackie," a reference to Jackie Robinson, that he thought was an inside joke between the two players."

Donaldson didn't think this was an inside joke. And I'm a bit disgusted at the media reports that gave him inches of space allowing him to make this allegation. Donaldson and Anderson aren't friends. They don't joke around.  Dondaldson is attempting to gaslight the press into thinking that this is just on-field chatter and not blatant racist harassment. 

So Josh Donaldson just randomly knew about a 2019 interview Tim Anderson gave where Tim Anderson compared himself to the next Jackie Robinson (one of the greatest baseball players of ALL TIME)? Come on. This absolute obsession with making everything racist is gross. That said, I will stand 100% corrected if such interview comment did not occur.

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26 minutes ago, se7799 said:

Soooo....you must know Arraez pretty well?  

Well, I've had nothing but positive interactions with him first hand as a fan, and some athletes can be kind of douchey because they're athletes and he is the always the opposite of that. The fans love him, his teammates love him, he's also done a lot to help out people back in his hometown in Venezuela and he is a great dad and a great husband. You don't have to know a person intimately to know he is a great guy who loves the game of baseball and likes to have fun.

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36 minutes ago, se7799 said:

Man...I know this much.  It really stinks to read such negative takes on Donaldson for his time here.  I mean calling him a cancer?  Really?  Posted by people that never had an opportunity to meet him, get to talk to him or have ANY credible resources.  His teammates respect him and dissagree with your opinion  But you must be right @wilfong86 and many others.  Does this make you feel better about yourself?  

I guess you and Donaldson must be best friends? He was never a good fit in Minnesota and it showed during his 2 year tenure and it shows even more in his absence. 

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