While the Atlanta Braves search for a third baseman continues, a new name has surfaced that has excited many around Braves Country. Reports have indicated that the Braves have “inquired” with the Colorado Rockies about trading for superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado. However, they aren’t expected to “aggressively” pursue him unless they do not re-sign third baseman Josh Donaldson. But if Donaldson and the Braves can’t agree to terms, it appears that Arenado to Atlanta could become likely.
Source: #Braves unlikely to aggressively pursue a Nolan Arenado trade with the #Rockies while Josh Donaldson remains available in free agency. If Donaldson signs elsewhere, Arenado-to-Atlanta becomes more plausible. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 29, 2019
Atlanta Braves to Pursue Trade for Nolan Arenado if Josh Donaldson Doesn’t Re-Sign
Arenado has seven years and $234 million left on his contract after signing an eight-year, $260 million extension last February. However, it’s worth noting that Arenado has a no-trade clause in his contract. So the final decision will be up to the five-time All-Star.
In 2019, Arenado posted a .315/.379/.583 slash line with 41 home runs and 118 RBI across 155 games. He also earned the seventh Gold Glove of his career, which he has spent entirely with Colorado.
Will the Braves Re-Sign Donaldson?
After signing a one-year, $23 million contract before the 2019 season, Donaldson provided Atlanta everything they paid for. Not only did he provide a swagger and veteran presence in the locker room, but he put up a 259/.379/.521 slash line with 37 home runs and 94 RBI through 155 regular-season games. He was also named the 2019 National League Comeback Player of the Year.
The Braves have made it clear that “Plan A” is to re-sign Donaldson. However, they have seemed reluctant to give the 34-year-old four guaranteed years. It’s believed that the Washington Nationals and Minnesota Twins are willing to go to four years for Donaldson, but it seems that he would prefer to stay in Atlanta. As a result, he has promised the Braves that he’ll let them make a final offer before he signs elsewhere. While Atlanta wants to retain Donaldson, it appears to hinge on their willingness to give him a four-year contract.
The Drawbacks on Trading for Arenado
There is always going to be a high price to pay when someone of Arenado’s caliber is acquired. The money he is owed is a concern for Atlanta, as they would have to pick up the $234 million remaining on his contract. The Braves are already expected to exceed their franchise-record Opening Day payroll ($122.6 million) by $15 million or more in 2020. Adding in the $35 million salary for Arenado in 2020 would surpass their franchise-record Opening Day payroll by at least $50 million.
Another drawback is the fact that Arenado can opt out after the 2021 season. It is hard to imagine that Arenado would opt out and turn down the $32.8 million annual salary he is owed over the last five years in his contract. But if he did, it would put Atlanta in a bind and on the search for a new third baseman.
Out of all the teams with interest in Arenado, the Braves arguably have the most assets to pull it off. Atlanta has an abundance of talented prospects to offer the Rockies and to acquire someone like Arenado. If talks get serious, the Rockies will most assuredly ask about the Braves top prospects, such as outfielder Drew Waters and starting pitchers Ian Anderson and Kyle Wright.
The Braves have highly-touted third baseman Austin Riley in their system, but his inability to adjust to offspeed pitches last season is a concern. At this point, it seems that the Braves want an experienced player such as Donaldson or Arenado to play third.
It’s still up for debate as to how much the Braves are willing to give for Arenado. Or if they want to take on his massive contract. But, as for now, it all depends on Donaldson’s decision.
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