Josh Donaldson announces retirement, reflects on disastrous Yankees stint: 'I just wished I could have played better'

Gary Phillips, New York Daily News on

Published in Baseball

Two former Yankees reunited on Monday, as Josh Donaldson went on Sean Casey’s podcast to call it a career.

“There was a time at the end of the season that I felt really good about where I was at, and I wanted to try to give it one more go,” Donaldson told The Mayor’s Office. “But being home with the family, getting married; today’s a sad but also happy day for me where I am going to announce my retirement from the game.”

Donaldson said that he had opportunities to keep playing, but the third baseman is done after 13 major league seasons with the Athletics, Blue Jays, Cleveland, Braves, Twins, Yankees and Brewers. That career included three All-Star nods, two Silver Sluggers and the 2015 American League MVP Award.

While Donaldson enjoyed a decorated career, Yankees fans will remember him as a major mistake.

He, Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt were acquired from the Twins in exchange for Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela in March 2022. What followed were two injury-riddled, unproductive seasons from Donaldson.

Although he could still pick it at the hot corner when healthy, the 38-year-old hit .207/.293/.385 with 25 homers, 77 RBI and a 91 OPS+ over 165 games and 666 plate appearances for the Yankees.

“The last two years were tough for me for the fact that I didn’t go out there and play well, like up to my standard,” said Donaldson, who added that he was surprised when the Yankees traded for him. “It wasn’t for a lack of not trying. I was in there working.


“I just wished I could have played better while my time was there. I felt like I was capable of doing it. I just didn’t go do it.”

Donaldson will go down as one of the worst acquisitions of Brian Cashman’s career. On top of the poor production, he made a $21.75 million salary in each of his two seasons with the Yankees and caused a clubhouse distraction in 2022 when he called ex-White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson, who is Black, “Jackie.”

Anderson’s peers described the comment, a reference to Jackie Robinson, as racist, and members of the Yankees, including Aaron Judge, said Donaldson was in the wrong. Donaldson received a one-game suspension and a fine from Major League Baseball. Donaldson appealed the ban and lost, though his fine was reduced.

While that incident resulted in some in-house criticism, Donaldson said that his teammates in New York were “awesome.” He finished the 2023 season with the Brewers after the Yankees released him in late August following a high-grade calf strain.

Donaldson ended his career with a .261/.358/.489 slash line, 1,310 hits, 279 home runs and 816 RBI.

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