If Manny Machado and Bryce Harper stay on the Nationals and Orioles, respectively, then the best bat on the market this offseason might be #Josh Donaldson of the Toronto #Blue Jays. The Blue Jays have said they’re not shopping him, but the one team that is known to have interest if he does be made available is the #St Louis Cardinals. But the Blue Jays say they’ll only trade Donaldson if it improves the major league team. Although this may seem a lofty goal in any trade that involves sending out a perennial MVP candidate, it’s possible that a trade can be formulated that fits the criteria for both sides.

Needs:

The Blue Jays need:

-An infielder who capably can play SS/2B and hit well if Troy Tulowitzki and/or Devon Travis are injured

-A right fielder

-A backup catcher

-If Donaldson moves, a third baseman

The Cardinals need:

-Upgrades at first base or right field

-A starting pitcher to replace Lance Lynn

-A bullpen arm

Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis both had significant injuries last year, and their replacements struggled.

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The same goes for Russell Martin, as the Blue Jays' backup catchers combined to be one of the worst units in baseball. Jose Bautista's contract is up, and he will not be back, opening up a hole in the outfield. The Cardinals were a good team all around last year, but not great, and could use upgrades at several positions. Their weakest links offensively were at right field and catcher, and they're not looking to replace Yadier Molina just yet. Likewise, the pitching was solid but Lance Lynn and Seung-hwan Oh are both up for free agency. So with all that in mind, here's a trade that might work for both sides:

The Deal:

Blue Jays get:

SP Alex Reyes

OF Steven Piscotty

2B/SS/3B Aledmys Diaz

Cardinals get:

3B Josh Donaldson

CF Kevin Pillar

2B/SS Ryan Goins

For the Cardinals: Josh Donaldson is an asset to any lineup.

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He immediately gives the Cardinals a major offensive boost in the middle of the order, and in order to get that kind of a boost they know they will have to part with some talent. As a part of this deal, the Cardinals would likely attempt to negotiate an extension to keep Donaldson around for four or five years.

Pillar is a major defensive upgrade over Dexter Fowler in CF (+15 Defensive Runs Saved for Pillar in 2017 vs -18 DRS for Fowler), and with the departure of Piscotty, Fowler could easily slide over to the right. They could also explore adding a free agent outfielder. Ryan Goins is a downgrade from Diaz, but still, a versatile infielder who can be utilized as a double-switch candidate.

Diaz and Piscotty are both coming off down years, and for a team with championship aspirations in 2018, the Cardinals can’t necessarily afford to wait and see if they bounce back. Alex Reyes is a painfully good prospect to part with, but he’s coming off Tommy John surgery and when he comes back there are no guarantees he’ll turn into the pitcher he was projected to be.

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And if you’re going to trade a five-star prospect, there aren’t very many better piece to trade it for than Josh Donaldson.

For the Blue Jays: Steven Piscotty and Aledmys Diaz are both just 26, and while both getting on in years, they were above-average as recently as 2016. Both players also have several years of control left, as the Blue Jays wait and see if they can bounce back from their slumps. Piscotty can capably replace the departing Jose Bautista in right field for 2018 and eventually transition into a 1B/DH role if his bat warrants it. Diaz can start at third base in place of Donaldson, but move over to the middle infield if Tulowitzki or Travis go down with an injury.

Alex Reyes is the major wildcard in this deal. A huge prospect as recently as a season ago, his recovery from surgery makes him an unknown commodity. He probably won’t be a major factor in 2018, since even if he’s back, he’ll likely need a few months to find his command again. In the short term, maybe he works out of the bullpen or in AAA, which a reloading the Jays team can allow him to do.

Kevin Pillar is a defensive wizard but his bat has never lived up to expectations, and over time playing on turf will have an effect on his body. He’s primed to start getting expensive soon and is not necessarily going to be worth a long-term investment as his defense declines. His best use is as a championship contender with defensive issues. Goins has likewise never hit enough, and the Blue Jays are seeking an offensive upgrade at utility infielder. A left-handed hitting backup who is capable of playing multiple positions is probably more useful in the National League, because of the need for double-switches, and because even Ryan Goins is a better hitter than most pitchers.

In this deal, the Cardinals don’t get the pitcher they need and the Blue Jays still need an infielder, so it may be incomplete. Perhaps the Cardinals throw in Jedd Gyorko and the Jays add an arm like Ryan Tepera. Or perhaps the second arm is Roberto Osuna and the Cardinals add significant pieces. But this is the framework for a potential deal that could be appealing to both parties.