Mered in disappointment by trading one of the franchise's greats despite only spending three seasons in Toronto, fans of the bluebirds became even more appalled when they found out that the player coming back was going to be named later. Fans wanted answers as to why the Jays GM Ross Atkins felt this particular trade was the best route to go for the 62-75 ballclub.
The other option was to keep Donaldson
, hope his rehab on a lingering calf-injury would accelerate in a positive direction before finding his form again. Donaldson hypothetically could've been tendered a qualifying offer of roughly $17 million next season with the hope that other teams would've stepped up with a juicer offer than the eventual PTBNL.
A far cry from the team that went to the 2015 and 2016 ALCS, trading Donaldson signified the end of those Blue Jays teams that reinvigorated the interest in the club across Canada.
"If we're not a contending team in three years, we'll be extremely disappointed."
"We want to make sure we're fielding a major league calibre team that is not just a group of guys that are transitioning at the same time; they need to learn from experienced veterans and we want to make sure we have them around."
When asked about the Donaldson deal specifically, Atkins explained that the club is satisfied with the publically unknown return and hope nothing but the best for the 32-year-old to find success in Cleveland.
"We're excited about our return. I can't say enough about what Josh Donaldson has meant to this organization and what he's done for this team. He was a very big part of '15 and '16 and we'll be pulling for his one-hundred percent and certainly not closing any doors of him not returning here."
While it's easy to say that the Jays should've traded Donaldson in 2017 or last offseason, Atkins held his ground as to why the team could never facilitate a deal since the Jays were trying to remain competitive and win in an extremely tough division.
"Our goal was to win. There was no intention to move Josh Donaldson because we knew to win, we needed him and we needed all of him. We knew that was a big ask and there was some risk to it. We thought we could weather small storms with the depth we acquired in Aledmys (Diaz), Solarte, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr's development and progress was encouraging.
"The storms were a bit too big in the absences of Tulo, and ultimately J.D, were just too big of a storm for us to ultimately weather."
"You can go back and talk about what our return would've had been bigger had we moved Josh Donaldson earlier, sure, our return would've been bigger. Our goal was to win."
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