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  • Chris O'Connor

Will Josh Donaldson be a Yankee in 2023?

By Chris O’Connor

December 14, 2022


There is no question that Josh Donaldson struggled offensively in his first year with the Yankees. While the now 37 year-old Donaldson stayed healthy enough to play in 132 games, he posted concerning, large declines in both traditional offensive numbers and advanced statistics.

Donaldson slashed just .202/.308/.374 with 15 home runs and a 97 WRC+, had his lowest hard-hit rate (43.4%) of the Statcast era (since 2015), and went for full-season career-worsts in both strikeout rate (27.1%) and walk rate (9.9%).

On the other hand, his defense was a pleasant surprise: he ranked fourth among qualified third baseman in DRS and fifth in both UZR/150 and OAA.

Still, a 37 year-old with his offensive decline and who accounts for $25 million in luxury tax salary in 2023 (with an $8 million buyout in 2024) is going to be nearly impossible to trade. The only way they could move him is if they attach prospects to entice someone to take his salary, which can’t be ruled out. I can’t imagine a scenario where the Yankees release him due to his high salary and adequate overall performance (1.6 fWAR).

So, how will Josh Donaldson fit into the Yankees plans in 2023?

Donaldson’s offensive decline, combined with the presence of Giancarlo Stanton on the roster, makes primary DH duty unlikely; if anything, his value moving forward will likely come from strong defense at third. The Yankees, however, have a number of other options available to play third base. IKF was pretty clearly overstretched as a shortstop, but he routinely posted excellent defensive metrics at third during his time with the Rangers. Oswaldo Cabrera is a valuable utility piece and can play a competent third. Both are valuable due to their ability to play multiple positions.

The way I see it, Donaldson’s presence on the 2023 Yankees comes down to two things: the trade value of Gleyber Torres and the health status of D.J. LeMahieu. If D.J.’s toe injury continues to linger, that is one less infielder with the ability to play second and third base. In that scenario, assuming one of Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe take the shortstop job, the Yankees can stick Gleyber at second and have a IKF/Donaldson combo at third. If the Yankees really like an offer for Gleyber Torres and move him, that would signal their confidence in D.J. 's health and move him back to second base.

Either way, it appears that the Yankees have a surplus of quality, if not star-level, infielders.

Having a lot of decent players is not a bad thing, but as any fan of the New York Knicks would tell you, it’s not the most inspiring thing. The offseason is far from over, and the Yankees bringing back Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo is a nice start. But the Yankees have a lot more to figure out if they want to get back to the World Series.

38 kommentarer

Andy Singer
Andy Singer
14 dec. 2022

Chris, I think your perspective here is pretty close to a bullseye. Without ensuring that DJLM is really healthy, I think it's a pretty tough thing to move on from both Torres and Donaldson. Defensive contribution also gives both of those guys a very high floor. By the time the playoffs come around, I'd prefer better options to at least 1/2, but they are both fine supporting pieces in a vacuum.

I do think we've lost the conversation to some extent. The Yankees paid an extra $9.95 million in 2022 for 1.4 bWAR, or roughly market price (or slightly less, in fact) for that performance. I too am skeptical of dWAR calculations as I am of Fielding Bible, but …

Andy Singer
Andy Singer
14 dec. 2022

For sure, Donaldson wasn't good at the plate in the playoffs, and I was royally annoyed at some of the first pitch swings. But you know who genuinely killed the Yankees at the plate in the playoffs? Judge, Torres, Carpenter, Trevino, Higgy, and Cabrera. Harrison Bader and Anthony Rizzo were the only good offensive performers the Yanks had in the playoffs.

Better yet, Donaldson actually had the 5th highest OPS among Yankees in the playoffs. There were bigger culprits, but for sure, I agree that Donaldson was not the offensive threat anyone expected.


14 dec. 2022

Just another serious complication resulting from Cashman's malpractice taking on Donaldson's contract in a trade that should never have been made. They should have just DFA'd Gary Sanchez when they had the chance.

14 dec. 2022

Umm no. Common sense


14 dec. 2022

"IKF was pretty clearly overstretched as a shortstop, but he routinely posted excellent defensive metrics at third during his time with the Rangers. "

For a 60-game season? Defensive metrics are questionable enough but I don't think that even their strongest advocate would take a 60-game sample as significant. Also IKF's wet noodle bat didn't even play at SS. At a corner position his weak offense is simply untenable.

14 dec. 2022


Boone is far from stupid.

as I said, the team was hunting for offense.

IKF provided some in the playoffs

Peraza supplied none.

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