Last year we saw what can happen when a veteran manager of a young, suddenly decent team has a contract that expires at the end of the season, but the Royals have ensured they won’t have a Jim Riggleman situation by exercising their 2013 option on Ned Yost before spring training even begins.
Yost, who took over for Trey Hillman 35 games into the 2010 season, has managed the Royals to a 126-163 (.436) record after compiling a 457-502 (.477) record in six seasons with the Brewers.
By comparison, Hillman had a nearly identical .423 winning percentage in Kansas City and the man who replaced Yost in Milwaukee (on a full-time basis), Ken Macha, has a .485 winning percentage there.
While the Royals have finished above .500 just once since 1995 and last did so in 2003 they’re well positioned to become contenders in the AL Central as all their young talent fills the roster. That began to happen in a big way last season, will continue to happen this year, and puts Yost in a spot to receive tons of credit when they finally start winning some games. For now, though, he’s managed eight seasons in the majors with a combined .467 winning percentage and has never won more than 83 games.
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.