Kyle Drabek secured a spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation coming out of the spring training, one-hit the Twins for seven innings in his first start, and had a 3.30 ERA through five outings.
And then everything fell apart for the 23-year-old prospect acquired from the Phillies in the Roy Halladay trade, as Drabek posted a 7.38 ERA with a .314 opponents’ batting average and more walks (35) than strikeouts (28) in 43 innings spread over his next nine starts.
He failed to make it out of the first inning against the Indians on June 1, allowed five runs to the Royals on June 7, and got knocked around by the Red Sox for three homers and a total of eight runs Sunday. And today the Blue Jays decided they’d seen enough, optioning Drabek back to Triple-A with a 5.70 ERA and 48/52 K/BB ratio in 73 innings.
There’s no doubt that Drabek has impressive raw stuff, as he averaged 93.4 miles per hour with his fastball and flashed a potentially dominant low-90s cutter, but with a league-leading 52 walks and 10 wild pitches in just 73 innings he’s clearly not yet polished enough to thrive against big-league hitters. He’ll likely be back in the second half, perhaps for good.
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.