Inbox: Will Toronto trade or extend Donaldson?

Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers questions from fans

Inbox: Will Toronto trade or extend Donaldson?

It seems possible that Josh Donaldson is going to walk after 2018. I keep hearing how you can't trade him because of how awesome he is. Well it would be even worse to let a 6-WAR guy leave for nothing. In my opinion this offseason should be, extend or trade.
-- Adge C., Richmond Hill, Ontario

Donaldson's contract situation will be the most polarizing topic of Toronto's offseason and it's not going away any time soon. Time will tell how serious negotiations get, but a trade this winter basically can be ruled out at this point. Toronto's front office consistently talked about remaining competitive next year and trading Donaldson would represent an unlikely about-face turn.

Arguments can be made on either side but the time to sell high on Donaldson has already come and gone. Typically teams are able to maximize the return on players when they have more than one season of control. Would the Blue Jays be able to get more for Donaldson now than they could in July? Most likely yes but I'm skeptical the return would be so much higher that it would justify punting on next year.

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The one thing Toronto can't afford to do is let Donaldson walk for nothing unless it's clear the Blue Jays are going to the postseason. If contract negotiations take place without a deal then it becomes a guarantee that Donaldson gets shopped around the All-Star Break. Donaldson has made it clear he wants to re-sign but at what cost? The answer to that should become clear in January after Toronto's offseason shopping is more or less complete.

Since we can safely assume that Devon Travis will get hurt at some point in 2018 and miss an extended period of time, can you foresee a situation where Richard Urena gets some reps at second?
-- Paul G., Rochester, New York

Urena will get some time in the big leagues next season but I don't think he will be the first option as a primary backup. General manager Ross Atkins seems pretty intent on adding a utility infielder. According to Atkins, Toronto "can't rely that we will have an absolutely healthy Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis for the entire year, and we need to build depth around them."

The problem is that a lot of free agents will prioritize playing time. Tulowitzki and Travis haven't been able to stay healthy but they're still the projected starters and recruits would have to accept that going into camp. That likely means Toronto will have to overpay in free agency for a reliable option, or instead pull off a trade with a team that is looking to cut payroll.

President Mark Shapiro and Atkins have discussed their plans to "remain competitive" in 2018. I think it's obvious the Blue Jays' most glaring need is speed. Eduardo Nunez, Lorenzo Cain and Dee Gordon are three ideal options. Do you agree that Toronto should try to add one or two of these names?
-- Alex, Vancouver, British Columbia

All three players fit the mold of what Toronto will be looking for this offseason. Atkins has acknowledged the lack of speed and athleticism is an issue but those skill sets are typically difficult to find through free agency. You've identified three players who could work but each comes with its own set of obstacles.

Gordon would require moving Travis to the outfield and that's something the Blue Jays have avoided so far. Nunez likely will be looking for more playing time than a utility infielder, but overpaying could be an option. Cain could just as easily prioritize a starting job in center, which Toronto can't offer. Either way, you're on the right track.

What is the plan to ensure Aaron Sanchez's ligament/tendon is healed by Spring Training and that his finger skin is toughened up to resist more blisters?
-- Jon S, Cambridge, Ontario

The ligament injury is not considered serious and it should be completely healed by the time Sanchez picks up a ball in early December. It's not expected to have an impact on his offseason and barring something unexpected it's also not the type of injury that comes with a major risk of recurrence. The blister problem is an entirely different conversation and one that still does not have a lot of answers.

Sanchez tried just about everything this season. He talked to pitchers who dealt with blisters such as Dodgers lefty Rich Hill and former big leaguer Al Leiter. There was surgery, periods of rest and even some of the unorthodox treatments. The fact is that nothing worked and there's still no guarantee it won't be an issue in the future. Sanchez will get a long extended break from throwing this winter but outside of that there is no magic formula.

Did the Blue Jays have anybody at Shohei Otani's most recent start? How aggressively does Toronto get in on him?
-- @nordiquefan73

I can't confirm that the Blue Jays were at Otani's final start but it would be logical to assume they were. Former Dodgers GM Dan Evans led the Toronto contingent that spent a lot of time in Japan to scout this year's prized recruit. It's hard to say how serious the Blue Jays will be about trying to sign Otani but we know the club has done its due diligence.

Otani reportedly is adamant about coming to the Major Leagues as both a pitcher and a hitter. Toronto can offer him both with holes in the outfield and in the starting rotation. The Blue Jays also have approximately $45 million coming off the books so there is money to spend. Even so, Otani might be a bit of a pipedream here. The Blue Jays have never been able to sign a top player from Japan and there will be no shortage of big-market teams who enter the bidding.

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.