The Atlanta Braves are having a productive Monday. In what seemed a matter of minutes after signing veteran, fan-favorite Brian McCann to replace Kurt Suzuki, the Braves bring in third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Donaldson and Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos go back their Blue Jays roots, when Anthopoulos trade four players to the Oakland Athletics to land his third baseman. That turned out to be an initial success, as Donaldson won the American League MVP that same season, slashing .297/.371/.568 with 122 runs, 123 RBI, and 41 home runs.
The 32-year-old right-hander was rumored to be on the trade block for what seemed an eternity, but an injury plagued 2018 saw him shipped to the Cleveland Indians at the deadline for a player to be named later, hardly the value of what a healthy Donaldson should command. Donaldson played 52 games last year in a very much lost season.
This is a big signing for the Braves as Donaldson has great numbers over his eight-year career, slashing .275/.367/.507 and a .874 OPS. He can find the gaps as well as launch it out of the park with 193 career doubles and 182 career home runs. He brings a veteran presence to the heart of the lineup and stability defensively at third. While he won’t win many Gold Gloves, he has a cannon of an arm having been drafted as a catcher.
It does present several big question marks for the Braves future. With Johan Camargo becoming a reliable option at third when they needed him, where does he move? Will he shift back to the super utility role, or are perhaps, Dansby Swanson’s days numbered at shortstop? Though it is just a one-year deal, does this mean the Braves don’t believe top offensive prospect Austin Riley is ready, or possibly on the move?
Stay tuned. These questions and more will be answered in the coming hot stove weeks.