Donaldson’s retirement fails to stop Michael Kay’s anti-Cashman tirade

Yankees long-time voice Michael Kay.
Inna Zeyger
Tuesday March 5, 2024

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Michael Kay is unforgiving and he is in no mood to let Brian Cashman go away over his Josh Donaldson trade mistakes.

Former New York Yankees third baseman Donaldson announced his retirement on Monday, marking the end of a successful major league career. Drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2008, Donaldson established himself as a force to be reckoned with, earning an MVP award and multiple All-Star selections. He joined the Yankees via trade in 2020, but his two seasons in pinstripes fell short of expectations, given his sizeable contract.

ESPN radio host Michael Kay, who also calls games for the Yankees on the YES Network, noted Donaldson’s retirement and used the opportunity to revisit the trade, which some consider a misstep by Yankees’ general manager Brian Cashman.

Josh Donaldson of the Yankees at Yankees Stadium against the Mariners on June 22, 2023.

Michael Kay shows Donaldson was Cashman’s monumental trade error

In March 2022, the Yankees acquired infielder Donaldson, shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and catcher Ben Rortvedt from the Minnesota Twins in a trade that sent infielder Gio Urshela and catcher Gary Sanchez in the opposite direction.

While Donaldson’s offensive production fell short of expectations during his two seasons in New York, the Yankees ultimately opted to release him before the end of the 2023 season. He later signed with the Milwaukee Brewers, who exited the playoffs earlier than anticipated.

This trade will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion for years to come, with fans and analysts evaluating its long-term impact on the Yankees’ organization. Michael Kay informed his audience on Monday afternoon that he received significant criticism for discussing the deal with the Twins. He acknowledged that Cashman generally performed well but emphasized that the trade with the Minnesota Twins stands out as one of Cashman’s poorest decisions ever.

Michael Kay remarked that the situation unfolded in a manner where the Yankees had to invest $50 million in Josh Donaldson for two notably poor seasons, which in turn restricted their flexibility at third base. Additionally, they recruited Isiah Kiner-Falefa to assume the role of shortstop, a decision that ultimately proved to be a significant disappointment. While Kiner-Falefa demonstrated some value by being versatile across various positions, he failed to excel as a shortstop. Moreover, he did not even start in that position during the postseason. In the subsequent year, he continued to play in various positions across the diamond.

Yankees' Josh Donaldson ducks away from a pitch by Orioles' Jordan Lyles on May 18, 2022, in Baltimore.

Michael Kay mentioned that Ben Rortvedt’s notable contribution was filling in to catch Gerrit Cole after Jose Trevino’s injury, which coincided with Cole’s Cy Young Award-winning season. However, Michael Kay indicated that it is unlikely Rortvedt will secure a spot on the team this year, especially considering he has no remaining options.

Michael Kay further commented that the trade involved giving up Gio Urshela, who had the capability to occupy the third base position instead of Donaldson. Additionally, Gary Sanchez, whom they doubted would succeed in New York, could have simply been released instead of being part of the trade. However, the decision was made to proceed with the trade, taking on Donaldson’s $50 million contract. In retrospect, this trade is unequivocally regarded as one of Brian’s poorest decisions, leaving little room for alternative arguments.

Was Donaldson acquired primarily for his defensive skills?

Micahel Kay remarked that he believes the team retained Donaldson under the impression that he still possessed hitting capabilities. He emphasized this point by highlighting that they wouldn’t have agreed to absorb $50 million in salary for someone solely capable of fielding at third base. However, he noted that despite Donaldson’s superior defensive skills at third base compared to Urshela, the offensive contributions Urshela could have provided outweighed Donaldson’s diminishing offensive performance.

Josh Donaldson is training at Yankees spring training camp, Tampa.

The ESPN host further commented that the alternative option was to release Gary Sanchez, who had a salary of $6 million. If they had opted to release him during spring training, they would have only been liable for $1.5 million of his salary. However, they chose to take on Josh’s $50 million contract instead, a decision that ultimately resulted in a disappointing outcome.

Michael Kay also mentioned that when the trade occurred, he received calls from a couple of individuals he knows from Minnesota expressing disbelief, questioning if the Yankees were genuinely serious about acquiring Josh. He noted that the entire Twins organization was likely celebrating the trade.

The long-time team voice remarked that the Yankees sought Donaldson’s assertiveness to counterbalance the subdued atmosphere in the clubhouse, but emphasized that maintaining an edge is difficult if performance is lacking. He noted that Donaldson’s performance had declined compared to his time in Toronto, where he had won an MVP award. Michael Kay also mentioned that Minnesota was delighted to part ways with Donaldson.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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2 thoughts on “Donaldson’s retirement fails to stop Michael Kay’s anti-Cashman tirade

  1. Cashman should be FIRED. This isn’t the only trade that didn’t work. Remember Gallo, Sonny Grey, Montas

  2. I rarely ever agree with Mr.Kay but he is so. so right about Cashman. His day has come and gone please remove him as GM to a non baseball position.

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