After an injury-plagued season in 2018, third baseman Josh Donaldson signed a one-year, $23 million contract with the Atlanta Braves this past offseason. There were plenty of questions regarding Donaldson’s health and capabilities coming into the season, but he quickly put those doubts to rest. He finished 2019 with a .259 average, 37 home runs, 94 RBI, .329 OBP, and an OPS of .900. Donaldson also finished in the top five percent of the league in Barrel Percentage (15.7%), Exit Velocity (92.9), Hard Hit Percentage (50%), and BB Percentage (15.2%).
Top Three Potential Landing Spots for Josh Donaldson
The Braves have already issued a qualifying offer worth $17.8 million to Donaldson. But considering that the Braves paid him more than that last season ($23 million), it seems clear that Donaldson will turn down the offer and elect to be a free agent. The market will be robust for Donaldson after his bounce-back season, as several contenders ready to spend could use a third baseman. Outside of Anthony Rendon, Donaldson appears to be the most sought-after third baseman.
So, let’s take a look at the top three potential landing spots for the “Bringer of Rain”.
The Braves seem like the most logical candidate to sign Donaldson. After all, he spent the 2019 season in Atlanta and was beloved by both his teammates and fans. His personality and swagger in the locker room was almost as significant as his stellar defensive play and his impact on the lineup. Donaldson provided energy to the Braves clubhouse throughout the season, as well as a veteran presence. He helped keep the team loose throughout the dog days of summer and a hotly contested pennant race.
JOSH DONALDSON @BRAVES TEAMMATES BROUGHT AN UMBRELLA INTO THE DUGOUT AFTER HIS HOME RUN.
THIS IS NOT A DRILL. pic.twitter.com/f8hNB7Dwwg
— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) September 1, 2019
Although the Braves have top-prospect Austin Riley waiting in the wings, his mid-season slump signifies that he isn’t quite ready for a full-time role. Johan Camargo was the Braves starting third baseman in 2018, but his lack of power at the hot corner is a concern. General manager Alex Anthopoulos has made it clear that he wants to re-sign Donaldson, so expect Atlanta to be a significant player in the Donaldson sweepstakes.
The Texas Rangers will be an intriguing team to watch this offseason. The Rangers are moving into a new ballpark next year and are expected to increase their payroll with a big signing or two. Adding a player of Donaldson’s caliber would certainly get the home crowd excited as the team moves into Globe Life Field.
As Matt Snyder of CBS Sports noted, “The Rangers’ opening day payroll in 2017 was over $165 million. It’s estimated at just under $110 million right now for 2020, so there’s certainly room to get to where they’ve been before with this same ownership group.”
“This year, we are going to look at everything,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “Our goal is to get better, period. There are a couple of spots more [available] than others. We have signed [top free agents] before and at some point I have to suspect we will again.”
Although they have been linked to players such as Gerrit Cole and Rendon, it seems more plausible that they might opt for an impact player like Donaldson instead.
After spending nearly a half-billion dollars last offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies are in win-now mode. Adding Donaldson would further solidify the Phillies as a contender, and would be a drastic upgrade over current third baseman Maikel Franco. Also, pairing the right-handed bat of Donaldson alongside the powerful left-handed bat of Bryce Harper would give nightmares to every pitching staff. Especially considering 81 of their games would be played in hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.
If the Phillies hope to stay under the luxury tax in 2020, they have about $42 million to invest. That obviously complicates things, but they could decide to back-load the deal. The Phillies weren’t afraid to spend “stupid money” last year, so expect them to make a run at Donaldson, and spend big, if need be.
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