Donaldson wants to stay with Toronto long term

Donaldson wants to stay with Toronto long term

NEW YORK -- Josh Donaldson says he would be "tickled pink" if the Blue Jays' front office approaches his agent during the offseason about a possible contract extension.

Donaldson has made his feelings known to Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins and president Mark Shapiro that he wants to remain with the organization for a "long time." Whether that's possible should become a lot clearer in the next couple of months.

The 31-year-old Donaldson is eligible for arbitration this offseason and has one year of control remaining on his contract. He is frequently mentioned in trade rumors and there has been a lot of skepticism about Toronto's ability to sign him long term, but that's exactly what Donaldson hopes will happen.

"I've made it known to our front office that I enjoy being a Toronto Blue Jay, that I enjoy my time here," Donaldson said. "If it's a possibility, I would definitely enjoy being a Blue Jay for a long time. I'm not going to sit here and try to force their hand, and they're not going to sit here and force mine.

"If it's able to work out, I'd be tickled pink. But at the end of the day, I don't make those decisions and I can't control that. The only thing I can control is going out there and trying to help my team win on a day-to-day basis and produce the way I know I can."

Toronto's front office has been pretty adamant that Donaldson will not be traded this offseason. The Blue Jays technically haven't ruled it out with 100 percent certainty, but Shapiro often said Toronto's goal is to get better in 2018 and he doesn't know how dealing Donaldson would accomplish that mission statement.

Despite multiple on-the-record comments from Toronto's brass, Donaldson's name continues to be frequently mentioned in rumors. The most recent report came from USA Today, which suggested earlier this week that the Cardinals were expected to make a strong run at Donaldson this offseason. It would appear as though Donaldson has heard the speculation as well, but he doesn't seem too worried about it.

"It's not fun being involved in trade rumors," Donaldson said. "I believe in this team. I believe in this organization and I enjoy my time here. That's definitely not something that I like to think about, but on the other side of it, I understand it."

Donaldson sat out the final game of the season on Sunday and finished his year hitting .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and 78 RBIs. Prior to 2017, Donaldson appeared in at least 155 games for four consecutive seasons, but this was a challenging year with a calf injury that cost him six weeks and led to some struggles at the plate even upon his return.

Statcast: Donaldson's 481-ft. HR

The first half that Donaldson put together was a disappointment, but in the second half he proved to be as good as ever. He led the American League with 24 home runs after the All-Star break and once again established himself as one of the top performers in all of baseball. Now, he'll understandably want to be paid like it.

If the Blue Jays can't work something out with Donaldson, then he'll head to arbitration. He would like to avoid that, but he's done it before after going through the process prior to his first season with the Blue Jays back in 2015.

"I think there's a business side, for sure, of the game," Donaldson said. "That's been proven, I've been to arbitration before. Is it something that you look forward to? I don't know. We'll see how negotiations go. I'm just happy to be here and play and finish the season in a good manner. But arbitration aside, I let my agents and stuff deal with that."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.