Posted on September 10, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine

Cleveland Indians Josh Donaldson

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The Cleveland Indians acquiring Josh Donaldson from the Blue Jays before September 1 could end up making a big difference in the American League playoffs. Naturally, some of the teams likely to be involved in the AL playoffs didn’t care for the move. In fact, a few of them reached out to Major League Baseball soon after the trade to voice a complaint.

According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros all reached out to MLB to either complain or get clarification on the trade. The issue is whether or not Donaldson was healthy enough to be put on revocable waivers and ultimately traded. Donaldson, of course, hasn’t played in a major league game since the end of May because of a calf injury. But that didn’t stop the Indians from working out a trade for him in hopes that he’ll be healthy enough to be a difference maker in the playoffs.

Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox are confused because Donaldson was placed on waivers on August, 28, the same day he began a minor league rehab assignment. Cleveland worked out a trade with the Blue Jays after Donaldson went unclaimed on waivers. He was activated on September 1 but didn’t play in any games before the Indians placed him back on the DL on September 3 so he could continue to play minor league rehab games.

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“I guess he got re-injured on the plane,” quipped one American League executive to Rosenthal.

The complaint from teams is that if Donaldson wasn’t healthy enough to play for the Indians right away, he wasn’t healthy enough to be traded. According to Rosenthal’s report, Donaldson did not feel comfortable playing in the majors at the time he was placed on waivers. He feared that a recurrence of the calf injury that has sidelined him since May would hurt his value in free agency this winter.

However, MLB reportedly shared Donaldson’s concerns with interested teams in what amounted to a “buyer beware” warning. Nevertheless, he was certified healthy by MLB, making him eligible to be traded. The Astros were reportedly satisfied with the explanation they received from MLB while the Red Sox and Yankees were not.

In any event, Donaldson is officially a member of the Indians and eligible to play in the postseason. He’s also continued to rehab his calf injury since the trade. With Cleveland’s double-A affiliate in their league’s playoffs, Donaldson was able to play in three minor league games last week. The Indians are now poised to activate Donaldson this week, possibly as early as Tuesday.

Whether Donaldson can get on stay healthy, get on track offensively, and make a difference in the playoffs remains to be seen. He hit just .234 with an OPS of .757 early in the season, numbers well below his career averages. He also hasn’t played in a major league game in over three months. But if he ends up making an impact for the Indians and helping them advance, there could be a whole lot of kicking and screaming being done by the other teams in the American League playoffs.

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