It has not been a fun few days in Arizona.
On Thursday night the last-place club cleaned house, firing both manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Josh Byrnes. Then, in an effort to pump new blood and excitement into the franchise, bench coach and 1988 World Series legend Kirk Gibson was named the Diamondbacks’ next manager.
Fast forward to Saturday night. The Diamondbacks committed a franchise-high six errors in a 14-1 loss to the division rival Dodgers and fell further out of contention in the National League West. Now 32-49, the underachieving D’Backs are 16 games out of first place.
It gets a tad worse. In the second inning Saturday, as clearly seen by this MLB.com video, Dodgers outfielder Xavier Paul drew a walk on only three balls against Arizona starter Rodrigo Lopez. Three balls. Not four. Three. That mistake triggered a six-run inning and the Gibson-led team was unable to overcome. When it rains, it pours.
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.