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Josh Donaldson announces retirement

Former American League MVP and three-time All-Star Josh Donaldson announced his retirement on Monday after 13 big league seasons.

Donaldson, 38, broke the news on “The Mayor’s Office with Sean Casey” podcast.

“Today is a sad but also a happy day for me to where I am going to announce my retirement from the game that I’ve dedicated my entire life around,” Donaldson said. “… It’s sad because I’ll be not able to go out there and play the game that I love anymore. But it’s also a very happy time that I get to be around the family and kind of take that next chapter in life.”

Donaldson broke into the Majors with the A’s in 2010 but didn’t really start transforming into the type of feared hitter he would become until making some swing adjustments in 2012. After a couple of stints in the Minors that year, Donaldson finished the season batting .290 with eight homers and an .844 OPS through his final 47 games.

“I just had confidence in what I was doing and that just furthered my confidence to say ‘OK, I have an idea of what I want to do and what I want to accomplish at the plate.’”

Donaldson totaled 53 homers and 126 extra-base hits over the next two seasons with the A’s, finished top 10 in the American League MVP voting each year and made his first All-Star Game in 2014.

That offseason, Donaldson was traded to the Blue Jays and immediately raised his game to another level. Known as “The Bringer of Rain” for his high-arcing dingers, Donaldson smashed a career-best 41 home runs and led the American League in runs (122), RBIs (123) and total bases (352) in 2015. Those numbers helped Donaldson earn MVP honors, joining George Bell (1987) as the only Blue Jays to win the award.

Toronto’s star-studded lineup ultimately led the Majors with 891 runs that season, the second-most in franchise history and 127 more than any other team. The team made back-to-back ALCS appearances in 2015 and ’16 with Donaldson in the heart of the order.

“I just remember the day that I got traded to Toronto,” Donaldson said, “and I sat there and I go, ‘You mean to tell me I’m about to get put into a lineup with Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnación, Jose Reyes?’ Russell Martin had just signed there as well. We ended up trading for Troy Tulowitzki halfway through the year. I was just going like, ‘I don’t know where [pitchers] are going to go.’”

Donaldson earned his first of two Silver Slugger Awards in 2015 and also captured the Hank Aaron Award. He surpassed the 30-homer mark with Toronto in 2016 and ‘17. From 2013-17, Donaldson’s 33.1 bWAR ranked second to only the Angels’ Mike Trout.

Donaldson was traded to Cleveland in 2018, an injury-marred season in which he played only 52 games. He spent time with four other clubs — the Braves, Twins, Yankees and Brewers — over the final five seasons of his career. His one season in Atlanta was a highlight as it featured 37 homers and a 126 OPS+ over 155 games.

Calf and hamstring ailments hampered Donaldson throughout his final seasons, including in 2023 as he slashed .152/.249/.418 in 50 games split between the Yankees and Brewers.

He told Casey that at the outset of the offseason, he prepared as if he would be playing in 2024. But Donaldson, who got married in the offseason, said he couldn’t find the right fit with a club.

“I just really felt like it would have had to be a perfect situation for me to go back and play,” he said “And there were a couple of opportunities out there, but at the end of the day, things really weren’t clicking and meshing for myself to be ready and go into a season mentally and physically ready to play.”

Donaldson retires with 1,310 hits, 279 home runs and an .847 OPS through 5,022 at-bats.

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