Ex-Files: Donaldson among former Blue Jays seeking post-season glory

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After closing out 2019 with a 67-95 record, the Toronto Blue Jays will sit out the MLB post-season for the third-consecutive year.

But Toronto fans will have plenty to watch for — or feel nostalgic about — as many players who once wore a Blue Jays uniform are now headed for the playoffs with different teams.

With the rebuilding process firing on all cylinders, fan-favourites from the 2015 and 2016 runs now have the chance to bring post-season glory to other cities. Others had briefer, less impactful stints in Canada, and will now try to leave their mark elsewhere.

Here are eight former Blue Jays headed for the post-season…

Josh DonaldsonAtlanta Braves
155 G | 94 RBI | 37 HR | .259/.379/.521 | 6.1 WAR

No question about it, Alex Anthopoulos’ bet paid off for both sides.

When the Braves signed Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million contract over the winter, he was coming off of an injury-plagued season. But even though the third baseman had played just 52 regular-season games because of shoulder and calf problems in 2018, Anthopoulos still wanted to reunite with Donaldson in Atlanta.

The 33-year-old returned to his middle-of-the-lineup form, finishing the season with much stronger numbers as he re-enters free agency. First, though, he and the Braves face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.

Russell MartinLos Angeles Dodgers
83 G | 20 RBI | 6 HR | .220/.337/.667 | 0.8 WAR

Back where it all started, Martin will fill a backup-catcher role in the playoffs, with Will Smith likely taking the bulk of the action.

The Canadian, traded from the Blue Jays in the off-season for two minor-leaguers, has looked healthy for most of the season after dealing with some back problems from February to April. More than an impactful bat, Martin should provide some veteran stability to the Dodgers’ defence.

J.A. HappNew York Yankees
31 G | 161.1 IP | 4.91 ERA | 140 K | 49 BB | 1.2 WAR

Happ’s 2019 season was a mixed bag.

The left-hander struggled after re-signing with the New York Yankees in the off-season, allowing a career-worst 34 home runs, and eventually getting moved to the bullpen towards the end of the regular season.

Happ has faced the Minnesota Twins — the Yankees’ ALDS matchup — twice this year, going 0-1 with a 10.00 ERA. The 36-year-old should crack New York’s playoff roster, but his usual starter role is not at all set in stone.

Eric SogardTampa Bay Rays
110 G | 40 RBI | 13 HR | .290/.353/.457 | 2.6 WAR

One of the Blue Jays’ feel-good stories of 2019, Sogard has turned a minor-league deal into a playoff ticket with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Sogard led Toronto in batting average all season before getting traded in July, around the same time when a rookie by the name of Bo Bichette showed up and took the team by storm.

The infielder’s production dropped slightly since the trade (.266 with a .731 OPS and three homers with Tampa Bay), but he could be the starting second baseman in the Rays’ wild-card, winner-take-all game against the Oakland A’s.

Edwin Encarnacion – New York Yankees
109 G | 86 RBI | 34 HR | .244/.344/.531 | 2.7 WAR

Encarnacion started the season with the Seattle Mariners following a whirlwind off-season trade, and got sent to the Yankees in June as the AL home-run leader at the time.

The 36-year-old has added to the Yankees’ list of injuries this year, as he missed time in August with a broken wrist after getting hit by a pitch and hasn’t played since Sept. 12 due to an oblique injury.

Encarnacion says he expects to be healthy for Game 1 of the ALDS on Friday, but his spot on the playoff roster isn’t a lock yet.

Daniel HudsonWashington Nationals
69 G | 73 IP | 2.47 ERA | 71 K | 27 BB | 2.0 WAR

One of the Blue Jays’ most valuable bullpen arms, Hudson took his game to another level after getting traded to the Washington Nationals at the deadline.

The right-handed reliever had a 1.44 ERA in 25 innings pitched, playing a high-leverage role in the Nats’ resurgent path to the post-season. Hudson was moved to the closer role towards the end of the season when Sean Doolittle hit the injured list, posting eight saves in 12 opportunities.

Eric ThamesMilwaukee Brewers
149 G | 61 RBI | 25 HR | .247/.346/.505 | 1.6 WAR

The hard-hitting first baseman who started his career with the Blue Jays in 2011 should be going back to October baseball with the Milwaukee Brewers for the second-consecutive season.

Thames experienced minor hamstring cramps last week, but is expected back in time for the Brewers’ wild-card game against the Nationals Tuesday.

The 32-year-old will probably carry a heavy offensive role, as the Brewers need all the power they can get after losing Christian Yelich to a fractured kneecap in early September.

Joe BiaginiHouston Astros
50 G | 64.2 IP | 4.59 ERA | 60 K | 26 BB | 0.4 WAR

Biagini started the season strong with the Blue Jays, but he didn’t manage to duplicate his success in Houston following the deal that sent him and Aaron Sanchez — done for the year with a shoulder injury — to the Astros in exchange for Derek Fisher.

Since getting traded, Biagini has a whopping 7.36 ERA with the Astros, so not only will he not make the trip to space, he likely won’t get a ticket to the playoffs, either.

Of course the Astros could still call on the reliever should injuries or other complications arise.

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