All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson is in extremely high demand this offseason, but which MLB team will emerge to sign him?
Few MLB free agents figure to be in as high demand as All-Star third baseman and former MVP Josh Donaldson.
After two disappointing, injury-plagued years to wrap up his time with the Toronto Blue Jays, Donaldson took a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves, effectively betting on himself at the age of 33. The three-time All-Star bounced back in a major way, playing in 155 games, leading the Braves in WAR and hitting .259/.379/.521 with 33 doubles, 37 home runs, 94 RBI and 100 walks. Donaldson also played his usual elite defense and took over as a leader in the Braves young clubhouse.
It’s easy to see why Donaldson is such an attractive free agent. His age will limit his contract to four years, which is less risky than signing Anthony Rendon to eight years. This also allows smaller-market teams like the Minnesota Twins to get in on the action, even if they are a long shot to sign Donaldson.
Entering his age-34 season, Donaldson still looks very much like the player he was at his peak. He hit .270/.402/.556 with 19 home runs and 49 RBI in the second half. Every team with money to spend this offseason can find a way to fit Donaldson into their lineup, but which team is the perfect fit? Donaldson will be looking for the right spot where he can step into the middle of a stacked lineup on a World Series contender.
These five teams appear to have the best chance to land the star third baseman.
5. Washington Nationals
A chance to win a World Series will likely be high on Donaldson’s list of priorities as he sorts through the half-dozen offers he is likely to receive, so let’s start with the defending champion Washington Nationals.
Last winter, the Nationals were faced with the loss of superstar Bryce Harper; this year, they have two massive free agents to try and retain or replace in third baseman Anthony Rendon and starter Stephen Strasburg. The Lerner family always seems to come up with extra money, but keeping both Rendon and Strasburg would give the team four players on nine-figure contracts and millions of dollars deferred out to future payments.
The Nationals offered Harper over $300 million last year with Strasburg already on a $175-million contract, so it is entirely possible they’ll pony up for Rendon. If not, Donaldson is an attractive fallback option. Donaldson’s deal would come in cheaper than Rendon’s on an annual basis and likely four years shorter. Signing the 33-year-old would be a solid middle ground and leave enough left over for the team to keep Strasburg and consider offering Juan Soto an extension.