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Indians trade for former AL MVP Donaldson

By PAUL HOYNES • Sep 1, 2018 at 12:55 AM

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Indians have traded for AL MVP Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports was first to report the news.

The Indians confirmed the trade at 11:45 p.m. Friday night. They had to await their medical staff signing off on Donaldson's physical well being — and had needed MLB approval on the trade.

The Blue Jays will receive a player to be named later. It's believed the Indians will pay $1 million of the $4 million left on Donaldson's $23 million contract for 2018.

One player who could be the player to be named is right-hander Julian Merryweather, who injured his right elbow in spring training and needed Tommy John surgery. Merryweather, 26, pitched at Class AA Akron and Class AAA Columbus in 2017.

Indians' doctors, because this is a trade, must work from the medical reports done by Toronto's medical staff. Teams cannot give a player a physical before they acquire him in a deal.

Donaldson, the MVP in 2015, has not played in the big leagues since May 28 because of a strained left calf. It will be interesting to see how the Indians are going to use Donaldson.

The right-handed hitting Donaldson, 32, has played just 36 games this season. He's hitting .234 (32-for-137) with five homers and 16 RBI. He's spent the last four years with the Blue Jays and will be a free agent at the end of the year

The Indians have the AL Central all but won so they could give Donaldson extra time to recover. He's been rehabbing his calf and played two Class A rehab games this week.

It's believed the price was not high for Donaldson. The Blue Jays put him through waivers this week and really wanted to trade him because they didn't want to have to make him him a qualifying offer this offseason and run the risk of him taking it after such a poor season.

If Donaldson is healthy, the Indians could move All-Star third baseman Jose Ramirez to second base and Jason Kipnis to center. They went into the postseason last year with a similar alignment, playing Giovanny Urshela and Yandy Diaz at third while Ramirez replaced the injured Kipnis at second.

When Kipnis returned, he played center field.

An effective Donaldson would definitely lengthen the Indians' lineup. The top five hitters in the Tribe's lineup — Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, Jose Ramirez, Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso are dangerous, but besides steady Yan Gomes, there's a drop in production after that.

Donaldson, a three-time All-Star, slashed .297/.371/.568 along with 41 homers and 123 RBI in his MVP season of 2015. He followed that by slashing .284/.404/.549 with 37 homers and 99 RBI in 2016.

In 2010 Donaldson made his big-league debut with the A's. He returned in 2010 to become Oakland's full-time third baseman until he was traded to Toronto after the 2014 season.

The Indians have had a long-standing interest in Donaldson.

Tribe DH Edwin Encarnacion played with Donaldson in Toronto. After the Indians beat Tampa, 3-0, on Friday, he told reporters, "Knowing him from the Jays, if that happens, everybody's gonna be excited to see him here. He's a great guy."

Cody Allen complimented the front office.

"Hats off to 'em," Allen said. "For the last few years they have done everything in their power to try and put this team in the best position to win baseball games. They haven't failed yet. Every guy that's set foot in this clubhouse at the deadline or in the offseason has come in and produced in big ways.

"So, if they're making a move for somebody, regardless of who it is, that guy is going to come in here and help," he added.

The Indians made the deal for Donaldson a couple of hours before Friday's midnight waiver deadline. For a player to be eligible for the postseason, he had to pass waivers, and be traded before midnight.

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