Over the course of the offseason, one of the more fascinating free agents to watch has been third baseman Josh Donaldson. For the longest time, the prevailing wisdom was that the Atlanta Braves, his team for 2019, were the heavy favorites to re-sign him. This made a lot of sense as the two sides appeared to be a good fit, the Braves have a strong need for a third baseman and power bat in the middle of their lineup, and the draft pick compensation that would come from signing Donaldson away from Atlanta was an added cost for other teams.
However, as the offseason dragged on, we kept hearing other names that were checking in on him. The Nationals kicked the tires for a long time and even had a four year deal on the table, the Phillies were interested at one point, the Twins kept popping up as a potential landing spot, the Rangers were candidates early in the offseason, and of course the Braves were mentioned almost daily as an option.
Well, the dust has finally settled and we have a bit of an upset regarding Donaldson’s services.
BREAKING: Per source, 3B Josh Donaldson has agreed to a four-year deal with the Minnesota Twins.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 15, 2020
The Minnesota Twins, who surprised a lot of people with a 101 win season in 2019, seemed to be very motivated to take advantage of the spot they are in. They have a really good, young core and with the Indians’ window closing and the White Sox looking like they were getting better, the Twins put their money on the table and made a big time play to win now in signing Donaldson.
As for the Braves, one can understand their position. Before the offseason started, most thought that Donaldson would get somewhere in the three year, $75 million range due to his age and factoring in some of the injuries he had in 2018. One can assume that the Braves would have been fine doing that sort of deal. However, once you start getting into the fourth year is where a lot of teams were not comfortable and while it has been rumored that the Braves had a four year deal on the table, it clearly did not have an AAV that enticed Donaldson.
This does, however, put the Braves in a bit of a situation. Sure, having an extra draft pick is nice, but the Phillies are clearly still pushing for the division title that the Braves have won in back to back years and the Nationals, although they did lose Anthony Rendon, won the World Series last year. With their lineup significantly worse as of right now, the Braves have some serious work to do to defend their division crown again.