The sweepstakes for third baseman and former AL MVP Josh Donaldson is finally over, as the “Bringer of Rain” heads to Minnesota. Let’s look at the signing, as well as the implications of Donaldson going to the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”
Twins Sign Josh Donaldson
The Minnesota Twins have had an active offseason thus far, adding Homer Bailey and Rich Hill to a pitching staff that needed some help. But yesterday, the Twins made an even bigger splash by adding one of the best bats that was available this offseason.
Per the MLB.com‘s Mark Feinsand, the Twins agreed to terms with Donaldson on a 4-year, $92M contract. Donaldson gets the term he wanted, and he heads back to the AL Central and joins the Twins, who won the AL Central crown in 2019. And he joins a powerful team that already has a number of talented hitters, including Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco and Mitch Garver.
Last season, Minnesota led MLB in home runs (307), which was a Major League Baseball record for most dingers by a team in a single season. The Twins were also second in the league in Slugging Percentage (.494, one point behind the Astros), and third in baseball in team wRC+ (116). Considering those numbers, Donaldson should fit in quite nicely with the “Bomba Squad”, as the “Bringer of Rain” finished in the top 10 last season among third baseman in home runs (4th-37), SLG (10th-.521) and wRC+ (9th-132).
With all of the power hitters and talent now on the Twins, they should be considered an early favorite to win the American League Pennant. Not only did Minnesota add to their rotation this offseason, which they badly needed, but the Twins also added one of the deadliest hitters in the game today, There should, however, be some concern though as to whether this was a smart move for the Twins.
Yes, the defending AL Central Champions are adding another talented hitter to their squad, but will he hold up for the next four seasons? Donaldson landed on the DL (now IL) in both 2017 and 2018, and while he didn’t get hurt last season, his injury history is a long-term concern, and should still be on the mind of Minnesota.
Now What for the Braves and Nationals?
For quite some time, it has felt almost inevitable that Donaldson would either stay with the Braves, or join the Washington Nationals. With Donaldson now off the board for both teams, what are the Braves and Nationals’ options for filling their holes at the hot corner?
For the Nationals, Starlin Castro seems like an obvious pick to play third for the defending World Series Champions. The Nats signed Castro a couple of weeks ago for infield depth, and considering that he played 45 games at third last season, he’ll most likely be the favorite to get time there. And then there’s top Nationals prospect Carter Kieboom. The natural shortstop could be a fit at third, but the Nats may want him to start at second base while letting the veteran Castro play the hot corner. Not to say Kieboom won’t get a chance at third, but the 22-year old has only logged 10 career pro games at third, compared to 41 career games at second, where his range might be a better fit.
As for the Braves, they too will most likely opt for internal options for right now. Johan Camargo was the Braves’ primary third baseman prior to Donaldson, and Austin Riley could also move back to his natural position. If the Braves look to move Riley to third, that could open the door for either Cristian Pache or Drew Waters in the outfield next season.
Of course, the Braves or Nationals could look at external options to fill their void, namely Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado. Both have reportedly been made available by their respective teams for a trade, but they won’t come cheap. And considering that there are other teams in the market for these players (i.e. Cardinals), both the Cubs and Rockies can wait for the highest bid to emerge. Will the Nationals and Braves be willing to trade away significant prospects for Bryant or Arenado? Time will tell, but if the trade market doesn’t work for these teams, they do have options internally as we noted earlier.
What do you think about the Donaldson signing? Let us know, and be sure to keep checking out the FH Freeway site for more news, reports and fantasy tips.