An early look at potential Braves’ free agents: Third baseman

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If you’re just joining us for this series, I began by listing the five most apparent needs for the Braves heading into the offseason – from the least to most important. The fifth was the bullpen; the fourth is third base. Atlanta is losing one of their superstars to free agency, and they have a difficult decision to make on whether to extend him and for how long.

The Headliners

Anthony Rendon

By the end of the season, and when it mattered most (the postseason), Anthony Rendon was the MVP of the NL – there’s no question about it. He’s set to hit the open market in his prime, coming off a year in which he hit .319 with 34 homers and a 1.010 OPS. Rendon will rightfully test Nolan Arenado for the most lucrative contract among third baseman.

Josh Donaldson

As a Braves fan, how could you not love Josh Donaldson? Many beefed over whether Atlanta should have handed him $23 million last offseason, knowing their payroll limitations, but Donaldson had no problem outperforming that number. He stayed healthy the entire season, smashed 37 bombs, and recorded a .900 OPS. Donaldson is in for a raise and multiple years this time around, and there will be plenty of suitors the Braves will have to compete with.

Mike Moustakas 

Like Donaldson, Moustakas is coming off a one-year, prove-it deal and thrived in Milwaukee. He racked up 35 homers and 87 RBIs with a .845 OPS in 145 games. Moustakas will be 31 next year and coming off an All-Star campaign. He’s in for a multi-year deal and a healthy raise.

Bargain bin signings

Todd Frazier

Teams could do a lot worse than Todd Frazier. He had a bounce-back year after a lackluster 2018, accounting for 21 home runs and a .251 batting average in 133 games. Frazier is a constant in the power department and should have a few more quality years ahead of him as he enters his age 34 season. For those teams that miss out on Donaldson, Moustakas and Rendon, Frazier will likely be the next best option, which could make him an overpay candidate, considering the slim pickings at the position.

Eric Sogard

Sogard doesn’t have a stellar track record, but he is coming off a career year with the Blue Jays and Rays, posting a 2.6 bWAR and .810 OPS in only 110 games. He will be 34 next year, so I wouldn’t expect him to cost too much for those that are interested.

Jedd Gyorko

Gyorko has a club option for $13 million in the final year of his contract. I can’t imagine the Dodgers exercising that after he hit .174 in only 92 at-bats this season. However, before 2019, he was a reliable starter for the Cardinals from 2016-2018, hitting for a decent average and providing some pop.

Asdrubal Cabrera

Cabrera struggled early in 2019 with Texas but was picked up by the Nationals and has been a diamond in the rough for them, hitting .323 with a .969 OPS in 38 games. He should attract interest from several teams that miss out on the top targets.


I do think the chances of the Braves bringing back Josh Donaldson are over 50%. Earlier this offseason, Alex Anthopoulos said there was mutual interest from both sides, which is an ideal start to negotiations, and why wouldn’t there be?

Donaldson fits perfectly in the lineup behind Freddie Freeman. His energy and firey personality matched that of the other players in the clubhouse, and he’s comfortable with both Alex Anthopoulos and the training staff, who did a marvelous job at keeping him healthy for all of 2019. However, there will be plenty of teams with bigger pockets interested, making it possible that he receives a deal the Braves can’t match, and he cannot refuse.

If that happens, Anthopoulos might take a look at a bargain bin player like Frazier on a one-year deal until they know Austin Riley is ready to assume third base. Johan Camargo is also a candidate to play there at times. Although, these options would certainly feel like a downgrade after the season Donaldson just had. With the market being so thin behind Rendon and Donaldson, Anthopoulos may have to resort to trading for a third baseman.

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