The Braves have made it well known that one of their main priorities this offseason is re-signing their slugging third baseman, Josh Donaldson. The 33-year-old hit 38 bombs with a .900 OPS for Atlanta last season, while narrowly missing out on a Gold Glove Award, and on top of that, was a perfect addition to a firey clubhouse. According to reports from last month, there is mutual interest in a return, but the Braves will still have to outbid several teams with much deeper pockets, including ones in their division.
The Washington Nationals have a hot commodity of their own at third base that is set to hit the open market. Anthony Rendon is the prized possession of this free-agent class, along with Gerrit Cole. The entire baseball world that can afford him will be in on him, and there’s a high chance the Nationals will not be able to retain him. They are already paying the likes of Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin a king’s ransom and are planning on re-signing Stephen Strasburg to a similar deal. If that happens, it is difficult to imagine them ponying up the $250 million it will take to bring back Rendon, so they are evaluating their alternatives, and Josh Donaldson is unsurprisingly at the top of their list, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.
“Free agency is barely in its infancy stage, but as the General Managers Meetings commenced Monday, one name on the market is already starting to gain serious momentum: Josh Donaldson,” Feinsand says. “The former American League MVP already has more than a half-dozen teams on his trail, with the Rangers, Phillies, Braves and Nationals chief among them, according to sources.”
And he goes on to quote an executive that says, “If a team is worried that waiting for Rendon could mean they get neither of them, they could make a move for Donaldson.”
The third base market is exceptionally top-heavy, with Rendon, Donaldson, and Mike Moustakas as the headliners. However, of those three, there is a clear pecking order. Donaldson is the primary fallback for teams that miss out on Rendon, and this appears to be a situation that is moving quickly. Remember, Donaldson signed with the Braves in late November last year. Hopefully, Atlanta can work out a deal, but if not, it looks like they will have plenty of time to evaluate their options before next season.