Josh Donaldson released by Yankees after less than 2 seasons

ByJeff Passan ESPN logo
Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The New York Yankees released third baseman Josh Donaldson on Tuesday, ending the former American League MVP's short and disappointing tenure as the Yankees reckon with the moves that landed them in last place.

The Yankees also placed outfielder Harrison Bader on waivers Tuesday, sources confirmed to ESPN.

Donaldson, 37, was acquired from the Minnesota Twins in a trade shortly after the end of the lockout in March 2022. Despite the $50 million remaining on the final two years of his contract -- $21 million for 2022 and 2023, plus an $8 million buyout on a 2024 option -- the Yankees had hoped the three-time All-Star could stabilize the third-base position and bolster their offense.

Following a tough 2022 season in which he finished with a .222/.308/.374 slash line, Donaldson was plagued by injury and ineffectiveness this year. In 33 games, he hit 10 home runs but batted .142/.225/.434.

The Yankees placed Donaldson on the injured list from April 5 to June 2 because of a strained right hamstring. A strained calf sidelined Donaldson in mid-July, and New York placed him on the 60-day injured list, figuring he would miss most of the season.

Although Donaldson is now healthy and nearing a return, the Yankees cut him, allowing him an opportunity to sign with a team where he could have playing time. Donaldson is expected to clear waivers at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and as long as he is on a team's roster by Friday, he would be postseason-eligible.

Bader, 29, was acquired in a trade for left-hander Jordan Montgomery last season and was hitting .242 with seven home runs this year.

At 63-68, the Yankees occupy the cellar of the AL East and are on the verge of their first sub-.500 season since 1992. Donaldson -- who was acquired with utilityman Isiah Kiner-Falefa and catcher Ben Rortvedt for infielder Gio Urshela and catcher Gary Sanchez -- has been the target of criticism from fans frustrated by the Yankees' collapse after six consecutive playoff appearances.

Donaldson's first season with the Yankees also was marred by a one-game suspension from Major League Baseball, which handed down the punishment after Donaldson called Chicago White Sox star Tim Anderson "Jackie" -- a reference to Jackie Robinson, who broke MLB's color barrier in 1947. Donaldson apologized to Anderson, who is Black, but the White Sox shortstop said the comment was "disrespectful" and "unnecessary."

In his prime, Donaldson was one of the best players in baseball. He won the 2015 AL MVP with the Toronto Blue Jays and four years later was resurgent with the Atlanta Braves, persuading the Twins to give him a four-year, $92 million free agent contract.

Donaldson and the Twins were never a good match, prompting Minnesota to look for takers. The Yankees obliged, and less than two years later, his career in pinstripes is over.

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