The Atlanta Braves just made a couple of moves to help improve their chances of returning to the postseason in 2019, with their biggest deal landing them former American League MVP Josh Donaldson.
According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the Braves followed up their early signing of catcher Brian McCann by announcing on Monday (November 26) that — pending a physical — they have reached an agreement that’ll bring Donaldson on board to round out an infield that already features All-Star Freddie Freeman on first base, young phenom Ozzie Albies on second, and 2018 NL Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna at short stop.
Providing that team physicians determine him healthy enough to sign, Donaldson will play third base on a one-year $23 million contract. As USA Today notes in its coverage of the deal, Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos had the luxury of pursuing his former Toronto Blue Jays signee, with the knowledge that he’d be able to apply the $11 million budgeted for Nick Markakis’ expiring contract towards negotiations. What’s more, having only three players tied up through 2020 also afforded Anthopoulos the flexibility to navigate the market for a significant acquisition.
The deal also works out smoothly for Donaldson, as he now gets one year to re-establish himself among the game’s elite following an injury plagued season that saw him bat a measly.246 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs in the 52 games he was able to get on the field to play for Toronto and Cleveland.
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
Josh Donaldson agrees to $23 million, 1-year deal with Braves https://t.co/RWlx2RuzrB— fox8news (@fox8news) November 26, 2018
Atlanta is hoping that Donaldson’s ability to finish this past season off in a starting role with the Indians signifies that he is on his way back to being an everyday threat in their young line-up. There is considerable cause for concern, considering he hasn’t been able to play more than 90 games in the past two seasons combined. Still, even in factoring in his age (33) there is no denying a healthy Josh Donaldson’s upside.
Of all players with over 3,000 plate appearances since 1900, only three different third basemen have had a higher OPS+ (on-base plus slugging) percentage than Donaldson, and all three are in the Hall of Fame (Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, and Chipper Jones). During the three full 162-game campaigns he put down with the Blue Jays between 2015-17, Donaldson hit 11 home runs, had 300 RBI, and registered an OPS of.946, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The acquisition of McCann on a one year, $2 million deal is a play to give the Braves some depth with a steady veteran. While he has had his own share of accolades in being an 8-time All-Star, even McCann realizes the Donaldson signing stole the afternoon, as was evident by allusion he made to the deal during his introductory presser.
“That’s how you win championships,” McCann said after spilling the beans about the Donaldson news.