Give a guy $80 million and he’ll wear any hat you want him to. Starter. Team leader. Scout:
Justin Verlander said the throws have life on them, more than he
saw last year. He talked about making adjustments, going back to the
basics. He’s really excited about the progress. He wasn’t talking about himself. He was talking about Jeremy Bonderman . . .
. . . “We play catch together most of the time, and he’s got a lot of life on
the ball,” Verlander said last week. “And that’s something that I
hadn’t seen over the last year or so. I’m really excited about where
Verlander, Porcello, Scherzer are a nice start, but an effective Jeremy Bonderman could be the difference between Detroit winning the division or coming in third.
Still, we’re deep into “best shape of his life” season, so it’s too early to get excited about this sort of thing.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.