As reported earlier by Braves beat reporter Mark Bowman, Josh Donaldson seems to be prioritizing longevity this offseason:
Not surprising, but there is growing expectation Donaldson will end up with a four-year deal. One thing to keep in mind is the possibility the DH could be added to the NL after the 2021 season.
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) December 9, 2019
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Braves fans. Donaldson is 34 years old with an injury history and is likely going to cash in one more time on a big contract. His price tag could potentially come down in exchange for that extra year, but he has all the bargaining power in the world. Anthony Rendon will command a mega-contract, and Donaldson will be the only elite third basemen left on the market when he signs.
Not only is Donaldson highly coveted, but his services are also being pushed for by Philly and Washington. This type of bargaining power will work against Atlanta in a big way, as there is no way they can let him walk to a division rival. He’s the type of guy who would burn the Braves every time he came to the plate. Unfortunately, the Phillies and Nationals seemingly aren’t afraid to throw out endless amounts of cash. And Washington should now be even more interested in Donaldson after re-signing Stephen Strasburg, which likely takes them out of the Rendon sweepstakes. Not only would it be a nightmare scenario playing him 18 games per season, but Atlanta also has very few other options. Mike Moustakas has been signed to a four-year contract, and Austin Riley is still an unknown (even though I have faith he’ll have a bounceback season).
Alex Anthopoulos has shown to be a savvy negotiator. I think that JD wants to come back. However, with this little bargaining power and his new request for a 4th year, keeping their top priority of the offseason will be their most difficult challenge. Philly would rather burn money than not spend it. Washington is fresh off of a championship looking to fill their biggest hole. Texas is moving to a new park and hoping to sign an impact player and make a big leap. Atlanta cannot afford to let themselves be outbid with the free agent and trade market as thin as it is third base.