Insider claims Josh Donaldson’s trade set in motion the Yankees’ decline


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The current slump the New York Yankees are facing are due to a number of factors that were in the making for years. However, according to ESPN analyst Jeff Passan, the Josh Donaldson trade that the team engaged in over a year ago played a key role in their tumultuous 2023 season.

The insider appeared on “The Michael Kay Show” on Tuesday to comment on the Yankees’ struggles. He underlined that certain choices have been more detrimental than others and singled out the particular trade involving Josh Donaldson.

Yankees Donaldson trade

On the 13th of March in 2022, the Yankees gave up Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela to acquire Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt.

During an appearance on “The Michael Kay Show” on Tuesday, Jeff Passan delved into the Yankees’ recent struggles and what led to their downfall. He didn’t talk about several aspects as expected, but pointed out how certain choices had proven to be significantly more detrimental. He specifically highlighted a particular Donaldson during the discussion.

The analyst called the Donaldson trade as “terrible.” He elaborated how the trade had issues right from the beginning, as the Yankees were aware of the challenges Donaldson faced in Minnesota due to interpersonal dynamics. He emphasized that there was a sense of toxicity, making it difficult to find any positive aspects in the trade involving Donaldson.

Donaldson’s known for his fiery personality, and he faced criticism last year for referring to Chicago White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson as “Jackie,” an incident he explained was intended as a joke rather than a racial slur. However, no public issues have arisen regarding his behavior within the Yankees’ clubhouse.

New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson left Wednesday's game against the Philadelphia Phillies with a hamstring injury.

Donaldson didn’t take off with Yankees

While Sanchez and Urshela didn’t exactly skyrocket to MLB stardom following the trade, Donaldson, a former MVP, has experienced a significant decline in his performance. Over two seasons with the Yankees, spanning 165 regular-season games (33 in the current year), he has registered a .207/.293/.385 batting line, tallying 25 home runs and 67 RBI, resulting in a 91 OPS+.

At present, the 37-year-old finds himself on the 60-day injured list due to a torn right calf muscle. He won’t be eligible to rejoin the active roster until mid-September. With a mutual option in his contract accompanied by an $8 million buyout, his return to the team seems unlikely.

Neither Kiner-Falefa nor Rortvedt have notably stood out either. Kiner-Falefa holds a .253 batting average, a .679 OPS, and has hit six home runs this season. In his role as a backup catcher, Rortvedt has posted a .550 OPS across 51 plate appearances. In the grand scheme, this trade highlights a significant shortcoming within the Yankees organization.

According to Passan, the root cause behind the current situation and the need to bring in new players lies in the Yankees’ drafting history. He emphasized that the Yankees’ drafts have been a point of significant criticism over the past 15 years, indicating that their drafting performance has been notably subpar during that period.

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