The New York Yankees made a surprising announcement on Tuesday, revealing that they have released third baseman Josh Donaldson. This move brings an end to Donaldson’s short and disappointing tenure with the team, as the Yankees grapple with the consequences of the decisions that contributed to their current last-place standing in the league.
At the beginning of the 2022 season, the Yankees acquired Josh Donaldson from the Minnesota Twins through a trade. The team had high hopes for the former American League MVP, believing that he would stabilize the third-base position and provide a much-needed offensive boost. Despite having $50 million remaining on his contract, spanning two years, Donaldson failed to deliver on these expectations.
Josh Donaldson’s performance in the 2022 season fell far below expectations. With a disappointing .222/.308/.374 slash line, he struggled to make a significant impact. Unfortunately, his woes continued into this year, as injuries and ineffectiveness plagued his performance. Although he managed to hit 10 home runs in 33 games, his overall batting average stood at a meager .142/.225/.434.
The Yankees were forced to place Donaldson on the injured list due to a strained right hamstring early in the season. This sidelined him until June 2. Adding to his injury troubles, a strained calf further delayed his return in mid-July. Eventually, New York placed him on the 60-day injured list, indicating that he would likely miss the majority of the season.
Josh Donaldson, now fully recovered from his injuries, has been given the opportunity to seek a fresh start elsewhere. The Yankees made the decision to release him, allowing him the chance to sign with a team that can offer him playing time. It is expected that Donaldson will clear waivers on Wednesday, and if he joins a new team before Friday, he will still be eligible to participate in the postseason.
The Yankees find themselves in a dire situation, currently holding the last position in the AL East with a record of 63-68. If they continue on this trajectory, it will be their first sub-.500 season since 1992. Naturally, fans have directed their frustration towards players like Donaldson, who was part of the team’s collapse after six consecutive playoff appearances.
Adding to Donaldson’s troubles, he received a one-game suspension from Major League Baseball during his first season with the Yankees. This punishment was handed down after Donaldson made a comment about Chicago White Sox star Tim Anderson, referring to him as “Jackie,” in reference to Jackie Robinson. Anderson, who is Black, deemed the comment “disrespectful” and “unnecessary,” despite Donaldson issuing an apology.
In his prime, Josh Donaldson was considered one of the best players in baseball. He even secured the 2015 AL MVP title during his time with the Toronto Blue Jays. Donaldson experienced a resurgence with the Atlanta Braves four years later, leading the Minnesota Twins to sign him to a lucrative four-year, $92 million free agent contract. However, his time with the Twins did not go as expected, ultimately leading to his move to the Yankees.
The New York Yankees’ decision to release Josh Donaldson marks the end of a short and disappointing tenure for the former MVP. While injuries and a decline in performance certainly contributed to his downfall, the Yankees’ overall struggles have further intensified the spotlight on him. As Donaldson explores new opportunities, both he and the Yankees will need to reflect on this experience and learn from it to prevent similar outcomes in the future.