Where's Josh Donaldson been? He hasn't played in a game since April 5. The New York Yankees haven't missed him at all, though, because DJ LeMahieu is an incredible defender at third base (and also has a bat that's worlds better than Donaldson's after all we've seen from the slugger since he arrived in New York last year).
Donaldson went down with a hamstring strain in early April. Then was seemingly expedited on a rehab assignment where he wasn't back to full strength (something the Yankees admitted!). That was the first setback in his journey back to the active roster.
On April 21, manager Aaron Boone told the media that Donaldson, who was expected to be activated that week, would "probably miss a couple of weeks" after re-aggravating his hamstring. Well, here we are a month later, and Donaldson hasn't even sniffed a rehab assignment.
Then, on Thursday, the Yankees revealed Donaldson suffered another setback, this time "slicing his hand" while putting something together at home with his daughter. That's prevented him from swinging a bat for a few days, and he's now on the same timetable for return as Giancarlo Stanton (something that's also kind of unclear).
So now we must wonder if there's some funny business going on behind the scenes. Donaldson's first setback was objectively baffling with how his rehab assignent was handled. Since then, we've seen him hanging around the Yankees dugout from time to time, but with very little information surrounding his situation. And his second setback? Cutting his hand on an Easy Bake Oven? We kid, but what kind of news dump is this? What's going on here?
Josh Donaldson injury: Are Yankees working to banish unproductive veteran?
The Yankees are a better team with LeMahieu in the lineup every day, and his presence at third base (he's arguably just as good as a defender as Donaldson) gives the Yankees more flexibility at DH -- something that's often a problem due to the aging/oft-injured players on this roster.
Has the front office finally realized that? Probably not, if we're being honest, but this situation is starting to elicit memories of how Jacoby Ellsbury was exiled from New York as he became more and more of a detriment/distraction rather than an asset.
Ever since Donaldson's incident with Tim Anderson, he's unfortunately been holding this team back with his terrible offense. Once an elite agitator, Donaldson seemingly can't even bring that aspect to the table anymore. So what's the use?
At the very least, it seems as if the Yankees are taking their sweet old time with Donaldson as they've found their groove with LeMahieu, Anthony Volpe, Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo manning the infield, with Oswaldo Cabrera and Isiah Kiner-Falefa providing adequate relief with their defense and athleticism.
The offense is fighting. The defense needs to be tidied up a bit, but not at the hot corner. The lineup actually isn't striking out an excessive amount (11th fewest strikeouts in the league). It's a better team without Donaldson. And since he's untradeable, the next best thing might be slowly and quietly removing him from the picture. Though we'll get a better of idea of what's actualyl going on in a couple weeks.