According to Bill Chastian of MLB.com, the Rays officially released Matt Bush yesterday after he spent the entire season on the restricted list following his DUI hit-and-run arrest in March.
Bush is accused of hitting a 72-year-old motorcyclist with a vehicle while under the influence and fleeing the scene of an accident. The 26-year-old remains in a Charlotte County jail, though the state of Florida has offered him a plea deal.
Bush was selected by the Padres with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2004 First-Year Player draft, but he his career has been marred by personal and legal troubles. He was arrested for a fight at a nightclub in Arizona before he even played a game. After struggling as a shortstop, the Padres moved him to the mound, but he required Tommy John surgery in 2008. He had a pair of alcohol-related incidents in 2009, during which he was acquired by the Blue Jays and then released. The Rays were hopeful that he had worked through his off-field troubles and was ready to salvage his career as a pitcher, but he’s all out of chances.
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.