Blue Jays, Donaldson avoid arbitration with record $23M deal

TORONTO – Josh Donaldson established a single-season payout record for arbitration-eligible players by settling on a $23-million, one-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, avoiding a potential hearing, an industry source told Sportsnet on Friday.

The superstar third baseman surpassed Bryce Harper’s previous mark of $21.625 million and earned himself a $6 million raise over the $17 million he received in 2017.

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That was part of a $28.65-million, two-year deal agreed to in February 2016 that avoided arbitration after Donaldson and the Blue Jays were only $450,000 apart upon exchanging figures. As a file-and-trial team, the only way to avoid a hearing once the sides trade numbers is a multi-year agreement.

Going the hearing route now would have done little good for the Blue Jays’ relationship with Donaldson, especially with him eligible for free agency in the fall. He went to a hearing with the Blue Jays in 2015, when an arbitrator selected the club’s offer of $4.3 million rather than the player’s ask of $5.75 million.

With the pressure off, Donaldson’s $23 million salary could serve as a potential jumping off point for talks on a longer-term deal in the spring, or simply set him up to test the market in the fall.

Donaldson is one of nine arbitration-eligible Blue Jays, with the club announcing deals for Ezequiel Carrera ($1.9 million) and Aaron Loup ($1,812,500) on Friday morning ahead of the 1 p.m. ET deadline for exchanging proposed salaries.

Marcus Stroman, Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez, Kevin Pillar, Devon Travis and Dominic Leone are the club’s other eligible players.

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