Kevin Kouzmanoff’s struggles offensively continued after being traded from Oakland to Colorado in mid-August, leading to the Rockies dropping the veteran third baseman from the 40-man roster and Kouzmanoff opting for free agency.
That was mostly just a timing issue anyway, because Kouzmanoff would have been in line for a $5 million salary via the arbitration process and there was never any chance of a team making that commitment to a guy who failed to crack a .700 OPS in back-to-back seasons.
Kouzmanoff’s stock has fallen to the point that he may have to settle for a bench job or perhaps even a minor-league contract. Any promise he showed by hitting .275 with 18 homers and a .786 OPS as a 25-year-old rookie with the Padres in 2007 has given way to four straight underwhelming seasons and Kouzmanoff is already 30 years old.
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.