Josh Donaldson FINALLY Makes a Decision
Josh Donaldson was one of the last big names in the free agent market, collecting offers from teams and driving the rumor mill bonkers. News broke on Tuesday night that he’s finally decided on a new team: the Minnesota Twins.
Donaldson, the 2015 AL MVP while with Toronto, had been plagued with injuries in 2017 and 2018. He came back strong in his one year with Atlanta in 2019, hitting .259/.379/.521 and 37 home runs. The Twins have reportedly offered him $92 million over four years, with a buyout of $8 million on a $16 million, fifth year option. The Twins will also lose their third round 2020 draft pick as compensation to the Braves for him turning down their qualifying offer. This deal is the largest free-agent deal the team has ever signed, almost double what the team gave pitcher Ervin Santana in 2015 ($55 million/four years).
Donaldson’s signing will likely shift Miguel Sano to first base, where he’d played a few times over the course of the 2019 season. Sano just signed a three year extension earlier this week, so Minnesota’s infield (Sano, Luis Arraez on second, Jorge Polanco at short, and now Donaldson) will be really good defensively and really powerful on offense. Donaldson hits really well at Target Field (see below), so he’ll likely have success in Minnesota. In 97 plate appearances against the Twins on their home turf, he’s got an OPS of 1.283.
Eyes had been on Donaldson over the last few weeks as the free agent market was dwindling and he was the last big name on the block for infielders. We had heard plenty about four-year offers from his 2019 team – the Braves – and the Nationals and Twins. There had also been some speculation that the Dodgers were going to make a run for the extremely talented third baseman. Negotiations had seemingly run stale, and fans of all three (four) of the teams in the running for Donaldson were starting to grow impatient waiting for him to sign a deal.
What the hell was taking so long? Was he weighing out his options for having to wear 15 layers on Opening Day in Minnesota? Was he hoping to join the Nats thinking they were going to have a repeat championship season? Was he trying to leverage these offers to stay with the Braves, knowing they’re hungry for the World Series? Chances are, it was a combination of all of these reasons and then some. He was the best infield player on the market and he could sit back and let the offers roll in.
Until… Enter rumors of the Rockies being willing to deal Nolan Arenado.
It’s not often I talk about trade or signing speculation, but it’s hard to ignore these rumors that Colorado is open to offers for their superstar. Teams were looking at alternatives to Donaldson and he likely realized his stock wasn’t going to get much higher. (At least, in my mind, that’s what happened.)
No matter what caused him to finally decide on Minnesota, we can all stop wondering where he’s going and move on to other MLB news like the cheating scandals and Alex Cora and the Red Sox parting ways. Or we can focus on the fact that pitchers and catchers report in less than a month.