Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays agree to record deal
Jays' Aaron Sanchez avoids arbitration, signs 1-year deal for reported $2.7 million
Third baseman Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to a $23 million US, one-year contact, the largest one-year deal for an arbitration-eligible player.
The new deal gives the 2015 AL MVP a $6 million raise.
The 32-year-old three-time all-star, who was eligible for arbitration, becomes the highest paid player on the Jays.
Donaldson rebounded from an injury-slowed 2016 to hit .270 last season with 33 homers and 78 runs batted in over 113 games. The sure-handed infielder missed time from April 14 through May 25 with a calf injury, which also hampered him during spring training.
Donaldson was coming off a $28.65 million, two-year deal. He is eligible for free agency after this season.
"Josh is huge component to our team and to our success — what he brings not only on the baseball field, but in the clubhouse," Blue Jays pitcher Aaron Sanchez told reporters before an event at a school in Burnaby, B.C., as part of the club's winter tour. "Great dude to be around, great leader."
Donaldson has a .285 batting average with 111 home runs and 300 RBIs over three seasons in Toronto.
Sanchez also confirmed he had avoided arbitration with the club. Reports said the contract is a one-year deal worth $2.7 million.
Sanchez' blister saga
Coming off a breakout campaign where Sanchez led the American League in earned-run average and got his first all-star nod, 2017 was marred by blister and nail issues on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
The baffling injury that first bubbled to the surface in April landed Sanchez on the disabled list four times before the hard-throwing right-hander was shut down for good in September with the club playing out the string.
Sanchez threw just 36 innings with a 1-3 record and a 4.25 earned-run average — a far cry from the 15-2 mark and AL-best 3.00 ERA he put up in 2016.
"It was just one thing after another that we really couldn't control," says the 25-year-old. "It went from trying to get ahead [of the injury] to falling way behind.
"I'm pretty confident that my finger, the way it is, will be fine this year. I'll have to maintain it like I have in years past, but no more of the disaster that it had last year."
That maintenance includes making sure his finger nail — which had a piece surgically removed in the first month of the 2017 season — is the right length, and that the skin isn't too hard or too soft.
Osuna, Stroman remain unsigned
The Blue Jays also agreed to one-year deals with outfielder Kevin Pillar ($3.25 million), second baseman Devon Travis ($1.45 million), right-hander Dominic Leone ($1.085 million), outfielder Ezequiel Carrera ($1.9 million) and left-hander Aaron Loup ($1.8 million)
Two key parts of the Jays' pitching staff that were eligible for arbitration, closer Roberto Osuna and starter Marcus Stroman, remain unsigned.