The Minnesota Twins have added Josh Donaldson to a record-breaking offense from last year. Here’s how the everyday lineup might look in 2020.
The Minnesota Twins seemed to still be in on Josh Donaldson as the calendar flipped to 2020, and the veteran third baseman sought a four-year deal worth north of $100 million. On Tuesday night, the Twins agreed to terms with Donaldson on a deal that will guarantee him $92 million over four years.
If a fifth-year option is picked up, Donaldson will get $100 million over five years with the possibility to reach $104 million in total if he hits escalators in the option.
After an injury-riddled 2018 campaign, Donaldson recaptured his previous form with the Atlanta Braves last year, posting a .900 OPS with 37 home runs and 94 RBI along with high marks for his defense at the hot corner.
Even with some inherent risk on the back of his deal as a 34-year old, Donaldson is an automatic upgrade to a Twins lineup that set the single-season major league record for home runs last year with 307. Minnesota now has six guys who topped 30 home runs in 2019.
Manager Rocco Baldelli has a lot of options for how he can configure his every day lineup. Here’s one option that feels likely:
1. Max Kepler-RF
2. Jorge Polanco-SS
3. Nelson Cruz-DH
4. Josh Donaldson-3B
5. Eddie Rosario-LF
6. Miguel Sano-1B
7. Mitch Garver-C
8. Luis Arraez-2B
9. Byron Buxton-CF
Cruz and Donaldson are the heart of the order, but otherwise the combinations seem truly endless here.
Polanco could bump up to leadoff, thus dropping Kepler to second, fifth or sixth. Arraez and his free-swinging, bat-to-ball skills (93.3 percent contact rate last year, according to FanGraphs) could fit nicely in the No. 2 spot. Donaldson and Cruz could flip the third and fourth spots, and nothing would be lost. Sano could realistically hit anywhere from fifth to seventh.
Rosario, the team’s RBI leader last year (109), could also end up anywhere from fifth to seventh depending on how the rest of the lineup is shaped. Garver (31 home runs last year) could hit leadoff or second, or somewhere from No. 6-No. 9. In any case, take pity on left-handed pitchers against this lineup.
Starting pitching stands as a need the Twins still have to address. But the opportunity to add Donaldson lingered, and a previously lackluster-looking offseason for the defending AL Central champions now has its narrative-shifting marquee move.