UPDATE: 8:30 p.m. ET: The Braves have officially announced the signing.
The Atlanta Braves are close to signing third baseman Josh Donaldson to a one year deal, according to multiple reports. Steve Phillips of MLB Network was the first to report a deal was close. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic says it is a one-year deal worth $23 million.
The Braves are yet to officially announce the deal.
Donaldson, who will turn 33 next month, was arguably the game’s best third baseman from 2013-2017 before an injury-filled 2018 brought his free agent value crashing down. He hit .246/.352/.449 with a 117 wRC+ across 219 plate appearances with Toronto and Cleveland last year as he dealt with shoulder and calf ailments. He posted an absurd .285/.387/.559 line with a 154 wRC+ from 2015-2017 with the Blue Jays.
Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos is very familiar with Donaldson as he traded for him while running the Blue Jays. Donaldson flourished in Toronto, winning the AL MVP in 2015. It was also reported the Braves tried to acquire Donaldson before the August 31 trade deadline, although that did not come to pass and he went to Cleveland instead.
As for the 2019 team, Donaldson immediately becomes the everyday third baseman assuming he is healthy. Johan Camargo could become the team’s super utility player depending on what other moves transpire over the next few months. Donaldson figures to slot in behind Freddie Freeman in the order, providing the Braves with one of the better 3-4 punches in baseball. A top-four of Acuña, Albies, Freeman and Donaldson could be lethal.
While Donaldson is far from cheap at $23 million for 2019, the one-year deal greatly reduces Atlanta’s risk. If Donaldson returns to his stellar 2015-17 form, the Braves get a bargain. If he’s unable to stay healthy over the entire season, Atlanta (currently) has a capable backup in Camargo and they’re free of Donaldson’s financial commitment in a year’s time.
Earlier on Monday, the Braves signed old friend Brian McCann to a one-year deal for just $2 million. He will platoon with Tyler Flowers behind the plate.
More to come.