Josh Donaldson could have been right at the top of the this free agent class if he remained healthy with the Blue Jays. He didn’t, but he still got a big chunk of money, as he’s reportedly signed with the Atlanta Braves.
Donaldson, 32, won the 2015 American League MVP with the Blue Jays and had another great season in 2016, but only managed to play in 165 total games in the past two years.
It’s rare that you get a consensus on any free agent deal, but Donaldson’s one-year signing is pretty much a win-win for everyone involved. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Braves are signing the third baseman for $23 million.
Donaldson in agreement with #Braves on one-year, $23M free-agent contract, sources tell The Athletic. Deal is pending a physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 26, 2018
There’s really no risk for the Braves. It’s only a one-year deal, so if Donaldson can’t stay healthy or simply doesn’t pan out, you’re done after 2019. If he’s a hit, then the Braves don’t mind the $23 million salary at all, as they try to take the next step after winning the NL East in 2018.
As for Donaldson, he could have easily cashed in more guaranteed money with other teams, but that most likely would have meant a lower average annual salary. For him, he gets the one-year prove it deal, while still making a nice $23 million in 2019. If he can play a full year and put up big numbers, then he’ll be in line for a bigger deal next offseason.
Projections had Donaldson signing a two or three year deal for about $16-$20 million per season.
Donaldson’s name came up as a possible target for the Cubs and White Sox earlier in the offseason, but obviously he would have been a backup plan to the bigger free agents available.
He’s off the board now and who knows, maybe the hot stove actually gets hot with the signing of Donaldson.