The Toronto Blue Jays could have acquired Rookie of the Year candidate Jack Flaherty from St. Louis for Josh Donaldson in the offseason, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
If Toronto Blue Jays fans are upset they didn’t get more for Josh Donaldson, they aren’t going to like what the team turned down.
The Blue Jays had a trade proposal for the former American League MVP from the St. Louis Cardinals in the offseason that included two minor league prospects. One of them was Jack Flaherty, according to a report by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The same Jack Flaherty who is now a leading candidate for the National League Rookie of the Year. The Blue Jays turned it down.
Instead of deciding not to deal Donaldson, Toronto didn’t get much out of him this year. He hit just .234 with five home runs in 36 games this season before going on the DL with a calf injury on May 28. It would turn out to be his last game in a Blue Jays uniform, as he remained out until being dealt to the Cleveland Indians on Aug. 31. All the Blue Jays could get in return then was a player to be named later, likely pitcher Julian Merryweather.
Donaldson, 32, is eligible for free agency after the season. He finally made his return, this time in an Indians uniform, on Sept. 11, and hit his first home run for Cleveland on Friday. He’s earning $23 million after signing a one-year extension with the Blue Jays in January.
The Blue Jays (65-82) are suffering through a lost season that now sees them 35.5 games behind Boston in the AL East. A big reason is the play of their starting pitching staff, which ranks 27th in the majors with a 4.85 ERA.
Flaherty would look good in that rotation right now. The 22-year-old right-hander, a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2014, is 8-7 with a 2.86 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 25 starts. He would lead the Blue Jays in all three categories if he was on the team. Flaherty is a serious contender for the NL Rookie of the Year, along with Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna and Washington’s Juan Soto.
With Flaherty anchoring their rotation, the Cardinals (81-67) are currently tied with Los Angeles for the second NL Wild Card spot. Nightengale wrote, “The greatest thing to happen to the #Stlcards was the #Bluejays’ rejection of the Cards’ trade proposal.”
If Jays fans have to watch Flaherty pitching for the Cardinals in the postseason, the best they could do is wonder what could have been if their team had only pulled the trigger last winter.