CLEARLY BRIAN MCCANN WAS HOLDING UP THE MARKET.
I joke, but soon after word broke that the Braves were bringing back their long-time catcher, it now looks like the Braves are also going to bring in a big-time potential bat:
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
Per sources: Josh Donaldson and the #Braves are close to finalizing a one-year deal. This would reunite the @BringerOfRain20 with Alex Anthopolous, the exec that brought him to the #BlueJays in November 2014.
— Steve Phillips (@StevePhillipsGM) November 26, 2018
Donaldson is obviously coming off of a seriously hampered walk year, where he dealt with a calf injury and saw his slash line plummet to .246/.352/.449. That was a mere 117 wRC+, and he hadn’t been below 150 in the three prior seasons. Also, he turns 33 next month. So there’s obviously potential for him to be merely a good, not great, bat in 2019.
Still, Donaldson raked late in the year with the Indians after finally returning from his calf injury, and there’s not a lot of risk on a one-year deal. For a Braves team that is clearly competitive and has an obvious hole at third base where they can afford to roll the dice for big offensive upside? This is a fantastic signing. No way around it. Many, many teams should have been interested at this level.
At least it wasn’t the Cardinals, eh? Perpetually a rumored landing spot in a Donaldson trade over the past year-plus, they must not have liked him at that price. Or perhaps they’re going to make a very serious run at Paul Goldschmidt.
Should the Cubs have tried to do the same? Well, if they’re absolutely opposed to going over the top tier of the luxury tax OR moving Kris Bryant to the outfield just yet, then, no. But dang, that’s a really attractive short-term, huge-upside play that almost any competitive team should have considered. It’s a lot of AAV, sure. But one-year deals are inherently so little risk for large-market teams.
That said, I don’t know that the Cubs were ever in on Donaldson, and I tend to think Bryant is going to be sticking at third base for a while yet, while sometimes shuffling out to the outfield as necessary. If the Cubs are going to make a big addition offensively, it’s likely to come at second base or in the outfield.
Meanwhile, the Braves … yeah, they will be competitive again next year, and I doubt they’re finished making moves.