Their accurate model that annually projects salaries for arbitration eligible players just gave Jays fans a lot to be hopeful for with the thinking that one of baseball’s best was on pace to cost them upwards of $20 million…per season.
As you probably can figure out, Josh Donaldson is worth a lot more than that. With most sabremetricians using a $5-$7 million per win formula, Donaldson would be worth nearly $45 million if you’re taking the more conservative measure at $5 million (He’s worth 8.7 WAR per Fangraphs this season). Obviously no player is going to get that much money for a given season–at least not yet anyways–but Donaldson really is worth that.
Instead, over his four plus seasons in the majors, Donaldson has made an accumulated sum of $5,772, 500. For a player of three consecutive 7+ WAR seasons, that’s an absolute steal.
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Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA Projection system projects Donaldson to significantly drop off next season and be more of a 4.0 WARP player than the player he’s been in seasons past. With that said, projection systems like PECOTA may not be able to accurately forecast the future of a player like Donaldson who broke onto the scene late, not having his breakout season until the age of 27.
Donaldson is likely better than a four WAR player next season. Is he a seven or eight WAR player? That’s hard to tell. At 29 and playing on turf, maybe he finally sees himself miss some serious time off the field, causing his value to decline. But maybe not. Maybe he experiences the gradual decline of a power hitter and outplays his PECOTA projection.Sep 27, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson reacts as he is doused with ice water by teammates after hitting a home run in the ninth inning to give the Jays a 5-4 win over Tampa Bay Rays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
With that said, Donaldson as a four win player is still conceivably underpaid. Josh Donaldson is worthy of the MVP title this season. With Mike Trout relegated to off-season activity early, Donaldson could and should be the front runner.
He could easily be making $20 million a season at that rate but he isn’t yet. Someday, maybe in the immediate future, a team will give Donaldson the contract he deserves. Whether it’s his current home in Toronto remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. At some point a buyer is going to pay big dollars for a man who has MVP calibre talent.
What the baseball world and Jays fans happily learned is that some point likely won’t be next year.