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Blue Jays set to re-sign McDonald for $1.5 million

Nov 25, 2009, 1:37 PM EDT

While trade rumors swirl around Roy Halladay, it looks like Alex Anthopoulos’ first move as the Blue Jays’ new general manager will be re-signing John McDonald for one year and $1.5 million.
McDonald has spent the past five seasons in Toronto, starting a total of 301 games, but was primarily a backup this year as Marco Scutaro emerged as the Blue Jays’ everyday shortstop. However, with Scutaro now a free agent McDonald may be given a chance to claim the starting job in 2010.
If that happens it’ll be great news for the Blue Jays’ defense and terrible news for the Blue Jays’ offense, because McDonald is one of the most extreme good-glove, no-hit players of this era. He’s a career .238/.276/.317 hitter, which works out to an adjusted OPS+ of 57 that ranks dead last among all active position players with at least 1,500 plate appearances.
Despite building a strong case as the worst hitter in baseball, McDonald has stuck around for over a decade because of his glove. He didn’t join the Blue Jays until after his 30th birthday, but while in Toronto he’s graded out as 12.7 runs above average in 2,513 innings at shortstop according to Ultimate Zone Rating. McDonald’s defensive reputation is even better than those numbers, although that’s perhaps due to the superior range he flashed in his 20s.
As a 35-year-old veteran with a good glove McDonald is worth the modest one-year commitment from a team with a big hole at shortstop, but Anthopoulos should definitely be looking for a more capable starter. Whether that means making an effort to re-sign Scutaro, targeting a different free agent, or swinging a trade, one of his offseason goals should be making sure that McDonald doesn’t head into spring training atop the depth chart.

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