Is it worth DFAing Josh Donaldson?
Donaldson is reportedly undecided about playing in 2024, a season that comes with a team option and $8 million buyout if the Yankees decide to move on. No word yet on whether he plans to play in 2023.
The Yankees have already taken the DFA plunge once this season, yanking Aaron Hicks out of the lineup with a cane and paying $27.5 million for the pleasure of his departure. Only God knows when Hicks' small sample size success will stop, but it's certainly been embarrassing for New York's braintrust to watch him become electric in Baltimore.
Getting rid of Hicks -- especially to add a younger defensive upgrade in Greg Allen -- was certainly the right move just a few weeks back. Of course, like anything the Yankees seem to try these days, it backfired; Allen's hip has laid him up for 6-8 weeks, while Hicks has gone back to roaming center field in Baltimore and doing it well. Therefore, it'd be understandable if the Yankees were hesitant to hit the DFA button again, despite Josh Donaldson's best efforts to be altogether useless.
A few weeks ago, Donaldson was actually the more obvious DFA candidate. Hicks was secured for the next 2.5 years, while dumping Donaldson only required eating a massive chunk of 2023 money and a relatively small (ok, fine, still big, $8 million) 2024 buyout. Hicks' cash will now weigh down multiple seasons. Donaldson would've mostly been a 2023 problem, something he still very much is as he collects garbage time home runs without doing much else.
Since battling accusations of being "Jacoby Ellsburied" by the team, Donaldson has returned to the lineup and been extremely weird. He's socked five additional homers since returning at Dodger Stadium, but only has ... one other hit. He's gotten on base at a .233 clip this season, but even when he gets there, he's not safe; his mindless pickoff against Boston on Sunday night loomed large in the "embarrassment" column. Is DFAing Donaldson the easiest way to get Peraza to the bigs? Do they have any loyalty remaining towards the third baseman? Or will they just be skittish after letting a contender pick up Hicks and watching him shine?
Considering this is a 2023-only problem, it might be worth it to bench Donaldson, keep him around and hope his homers begin to come at more opportune times. Then again, of course ... he's been awful. Awful, awful, awful. If the flub on the base paths Sunday night didn't clinch his departure, then it's not clear what will. Cutting Hicks looks like an early mistake. Will the Yankees be willing to hold their noses and try it again? The leash probably lasts through mid-July before a move must be made.
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