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Cleveland Indians: Could Josh Donaldson return in 2019?

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Indians acquired Josh Donaldson as a late rental player in 2018. But could he be kept in Cleveland for a discount?

The addition of Josh Donaldson didn’t exactly work out as planned for the Cleveland Indians.

The slugger recorded one lonely hit in the postseason, although he is far from being one to blame for the ALDS loss. That falls on the entire team.

The trade for Donaldson was a bit of a surprise, but it was still a bargain as it came late in the season. He entered the season on a one-year, $23 million deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. That level of pay came after a stretch from 2015-2017 when Donaldson won an AL MVP Award and made two All-Star Games as a member of the Blue Jays.

But things were different in 2018 for Donaldson. He only appeared in a total of 52 games between Toronto and Cleveland due to injuries. He did finish with a respectable .352 on-base percentage, but only hit eight home runs. Unfortunately, that OBP dropped to .167 in the ALDS.

If Donaldson had been healthy all last season, I think it would be a no-brainer that he would be up for a big multi-year deal this offseason. But with his health potentially a question, there is a possibility that a team takes him on a one-year deal.

Could the Indians be that team?

I’m not sure about that, and it has to do with more than just the cost.

As of right now the starting infield in 2019 should look the same as it did to start 2018. That means Jason Kipnis at second base and Jose Ramirez at third. While some fans may want the team to simply trade Kipnis, the nearly $15 million he is set to earn next year makes that a difficult move.

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There is also the fact that Yandy Diaz would be a much cheaper, and younger, player at the third base position if the team does somehow move Kipnis this offseason. That makes Donaldson look like what he was. Just a rental to help make the push for that elusive World Series title.