Alex Anthopolous has acquired Josh Donaldson again. Trading for the future Most Valuable Player was the most important thing he did during his tenure as Blue Jays general manager and he’s diving into the well again.
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 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
Donaldson, who had an absolute disaster of a season in 2018 due to injuries, have finalized a one-year deal worth $23 million. This time last year, it looked like Donaldson was going to be one of the biggest free agents on the market. It seemed he would command something north of a five-year deal worth $25 million annually given his huge finish to the 2017 season.
Instead, Donaldson would play in just 36 games with Toronto before being dealt to Cleveland for a warm body at end of August. With Cleveland, Donaldson played in 16 games and slashed a very solid .280/.400/.520 line, but then disappeared in the playoffs.
It’s interesting how quickly Donaldson signed into the off-season, but the Anthopolous connection probably made a lot of sense for him. The Braves are a young and good team and there’s a spot at third base for him to play (sorry, Johan Camargo!).
The Donaldson saga was a frustrating one, there’s no doubt about that. The Jays ultimately opted to keep him for a run at the wild card in 2018, which was a fair risk, but then traded him away for an underwhelming prospect rather than giving him a qualifying offer to take another stab in 2019. Personally, I figured the ~$18 million to bring back Donaldson and try to let him regain value for a mid-season trade was better than letting him go for Julian Merryweather.
Regardless, the Jays were clearly ready to move on from Donaldson, for better or worse. It’ll be interesting to see how he does in Atlanta. If he can stay healthy, the Braves are going to get themselves really good value out of him. Still, that is a huge if.
Just for fun, if we had to make a bet right now, how many Blue Jays do you think will be worth more WAR than Donaldson in 2019?