One of the biggest missteps of Brian Cashman's reign over the New York Yankees was the Josh Donaldson trade. We can talk about it until we're blue in the face. The veteran's downright terrible two-year stint with the team came to an end on Tuesday when he was outright released.
This came a couple days after manager Aaron Boone said Donaldson was nearing a rehab assignment and an eventual return to the active roster, which had everyone confused because 1) the season is over; 2) Donaldson is terrible; 3) Donaldson isn't going to be back next year; and 4) he had already been banished to the 60-day IL for what seemed to be a run-of-the-mill calf injury. It always felt like this was an excuse to finally be done with Donaldson.
And that was indeed the case. The Yankees needed to rid themselves of his stench, because nothing had gone right since his acquisition.
The Yankees claimed they couldn't put another big contract on the books that offseason, yet willingly inherited the $50+ million attached to his name. They refused to cut ties with Gary Sánchez without getting value, and this was the best they could do (when they could've just non-tendered Sánchez to save ~$10 million). Cashman said Gio Urshela was "no Josh Donaldson," and then Urshela proceeded to outplay him considerably. So many things were wrong with this deal.
It all started with the "Jackie" incident with Tim Anderson. Then Donaldson really became useless. It didn't matter how many oppoising pitchers kept feeding him middle-middle 94 MPH fastballs. He kept whiffing. His suspension brought drama to the Yankees, and his continuing declining play only made it worse.
When the offseason arrived, many figured he'd get traded and that the Yankees would find a way to offload him and either eat a portion of the money or attach a top prospect. They didn't. What happened instead? Donaldson got injured the first week of the season, had his return delayed because he cut his hand playing with his daughter, and finally made it back two months later (after having his comeback delayed because he partook in a rehab assignment while very clearly injured).
By late June, Donaldson wasn't playing and then had a "meeting" with Boone before the manager's pregame presser on June 25, which ended up getting delayed by 20 minutes. Boone claimed nothing out of the ordinary was talked about, and Donaldson reiterated the same in the postgame. Just a normal conversation, you know. The ones that delay mandatory meetings with the press.
For whatever reason, Donaldson's been taking batting practice with the Yankees for weeks despite not being healthy enough to play in games. The team has really handled this poorly. So we can't help but wonder whether something may have happened between then and now, because his "farewell" tweet was extremely bizarre -- something that a corporate copywriter would cook up in haste.
Bizarre Josh Donaldson tweet after release adds more mystique to awful Yankees tenure
So ... is he retiring? Doesn't thank the fans or his teammates? Just thanks "The Yankees" and people who have supported him "over the years"? It's just so vague and poorly structured.
... as was the trade and decision making process that brought him to the Bronx. Guess that's par for the course when it comes to the modern day Yankees. Cashman's decision to bring him in while passing on Corey Seager, Marcus Semien, one year of Carlos Correa, Freddie Freeman, Kevin Gausman, Kyle Schwarber and others, and the subsequent way Donaldson's entire existence here was handled, sums up how far the Yankees have truly fallen.