Toronto’s 50 Most Influential: #28, Josh Donaldson
Our annual ranking of the people whose smarts, connections and clout are changing the city as we know it
Toronto Blue Jays
28 The trade that brought Donaldson to Toronto (in exchange for Brett Lawrie and a few ho-hum prospects to Oakland) is widely considered the most egregious rip-off in recent history. Fortunately, it was in our favour. Donaldson was first on the Jays in runs, home runs, runs batted in, doubles, hits and extra-base hits, and helped lead the team to the post-season for the first time in 22 years. On defence, he instilled a grittiness the team desperately needed. In the best defensive play of the year, he launched himself two rows deep into the stands to catch a ball and preserve his pitcher’s perfect game bid in the process. That sort of hustle earned him the admiration of Don Cherry and Arrow star Stephen Amell, both of whom led the campaign to get Donaldson votes for the all-star game. Their efforts were probably unnecessary: Donaldson ended up with 14 million fan votes, the most of any player. At home, he quickly became a public darling—his jersey was the team’s bestseller. As the city and country embraced him (Roots signed him as a spokesperson), he embraced us back, hosting a charity bowling tournament in late August for the Jays Care Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters that raised $80,000.
Donaldson is in his prime and is under contract for the next three years. The Jays paid him $4.3 million in 2015; he’ll likely fetch nearly triple that in 2016.