Wednesday evening, the Los Angeles Angels signed Anthony Rendon to a seven-year, $245 million deal. Now, with a ton of teams still seeking help at the hot corner, the market has shifted to free agent, Josh Donaldson. Just a year after settling for a one-year deal, Donaldson is all but guaranteed a $100 million payday. The only question that remains is who will win the bidding war.
At 34 years of age, any deal over three years will have its risks. In fact, David O’Brien of The Athletic does not think the Braves will get in a bidding war if negotiations stretch out to four years. However, the options on the market are slim pickings after Donaldson, with only Miguel Andujar and Kris Bryant left as realistic trade candidates. One way or the other, the Braves are going to have to find Freddie Freeman some type of protection in the lineup, which could mean pivoting their focus to the outfield. While Alex Anthopolous has done a great job upgrading other units of the team, filling the 4-hole will be a necessity for the Braves to repeat as NL East champions.
The encouraging sign here is, according to Ken Rosenthal, Donaldson’s preference is to return to the Braves. Of course, money talks, but if it comes down to a few bucks, the Braves may get a slight edge. However, Donaldson will be looking to secure the last payday of his career, and there won’t be any significant hometown discount. According to reports, his current suitors include the Nationals, Phillies, Dodgers, and Twins. If Los Angeles were to sign him, Justin Turner could emerge as a top trade target for Atlanta.
The way things are shaping out, it looks like a Donaldson deal could be done by the end of the weekend. The Braves being Donaldson’s reported preferred destination is promising, but I am not sure the odds should be in their favor, given their affinity for shorter-term deals in free agency.