Following a bounce-back season, 2019 National League Comeback Player of the Year Josh Donaldson remains on the free-agent market. The 34-year-old is looking to earn big money after highly-touted third baseman Anthony Rendon was paid $245 million over seven years.
During the 2019 season, Donaldson hit .259 with 37 HR, 94 RBI, and 33 doubles. Along with his power, Donaldson played elite defense, ranking second among third baseman in Defensive Runs Saved with 15 this past season. With the free-agent market for third baseman slimming in the last month, multiple teams are in on Donaldson. With more interest and rumors heating up, here are five teams that are most likely to make a run at the 2015 American League MVP.
After a trade that brought two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to Texas, the Rangers solidified their starting rotation and are now moving on to other aspects of need. The Rangers were in on Rendon, but fell short as he chose the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Losing out, the Rangers could logically move to Josh Donaldson.
Last season, the Rangers ranked 17th in batting average and home runs. By adding Donaldson, the lineup gets a huge boost in power that lacked throughout 2019. The only ‘third baseman’ on the Rangers roster – Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Nick Solak – combined to play just 36 games at the hot corner last season. At the beginning of the offseason, the Rangers made starting pitching and third base a priority. They already acquired their starting pitching through Kluber, Kyle Gibson, and Jordan Lyles; the next step is to fill their need at third. Donaldson feels like a logical choice.
The Phillies have been very active in free agency so far. They first signed Zack Wheeler to a 5 year, $118 million deal. Then, the Phillies reunited shortstop Didi Gregorious with his former manager, Joe Girardi, on a one year deal worth $14 million. After the non-tender of Maikel Franco, the team may focus on the hot corner.
Around the infield, Scott Kingery is looking to take over second base, following the non-tender of Cesar Hernandez. Kingery showed a lot of growth this year batting .258 with 19 HR and 55 RBI. With Franco gone, third base is empty for the Phillies. Donaldson would bring another powerful bat to a strong lineup with Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, and JT Realmuto. One could also add Didi Gregorious, who is looking to bounce back after a down year offensively. Josh Donaldson would make the Phillies lineup dangerous, as it would put four players with 25-plus home runs from last season in the lineup. It would also upgrade the defense, as Donaldson has also proved to be an elite defender.
The Washington Nationals were forced to make a very tough decision between World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg and Rendon. The Nationals chose to re-sign the World Series MVP to a seven-year, $245 million deal to retain one of the top starting rotations in the MLB. This lead to the loss of Rendon – who signed an identical contract.
With the crater left by Rendon, there is a huge hole at third base. The Nationals have expressed interest in trading for Cubs star third baseman Kris Bryant, but the Cubs would likely ask for outfielder Victor Robles, who the Nationals will not give up. With that impasse, the Nationals will probably have to look at the free-agent market to Donaldson.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers have been on the hunt for top-tier players throughout the offseason but have come up short on each one. Failing to win a World Series in each of the past three seasons, the front office is looking to add some talent to get the team over-the-top to finally claim a World Series title. They were looking into Rendon but missed out. Donaldson would bring more power to the lineup alongside Bellinger, Muncy, and Turner. The infield could consist of Turner at first, Muncy at second, Seager at shortstop, and Donaldson at third. If the Dodgers want to sign a player to put them in the best shape, Donaldson is the best name on the market.
The Braves have two options when it comes to third base: re-sign Josh Donaldson after rejuvenating his value or allow former top prospect Austin Riley to take over. Riley played left field for the Braves throughout the season, before his injury, which placed two powerful bats in the lineup. Donaldson reshaped his career in Atlanta and could continue to prosper as one of the better third basemen in the league. After the signing of Cole Hamels, the Braves still have money to spend and can bring back the strong infield of Freeman, Albies, Swanson, and Donaldson. In this case, Riley, Acuña, and Markakis can be slated for the outfield. Donaldson only makes the team stronger by adding elite defense and adding pure power.
The 2019 season was a comeback and rejuvenation tour for Donaldson as he proved to be the player he was when he was an MVP in 2015. Donaldson plays elite defense, has a powerful bat, and is expected to be one of the next big names next off the board.
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