The Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson have agreed to a $23 million contract for next season to avoid arbitration, according to multiple reports. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi was first to report the news.
The salary is a record for an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing Bryce Harper’s figure for this season. Harper, like Donaldson, will be a free agent after this season and agreed in May to a 2018 salary of $21.625 million.
After three straight years as an All-Star and two with top-five finishes in All-Star voting Donaldson’s production was slightly down in 2017, partially due to an early-season calf injury that kept him out for six weeks. He hit .270 with a .385 on-base percentage and 33 homers.
The Blue Jays spent a good portion of the winter listening to trade offers for Donaldson as they face the decision of whether to send him away while getting value in return or possibly losing him with no compensation as a free agent. The 2015 AL MVP will be 33 when he hits the market next winter.