According to reports throughout the offseason, the Braves had been steadfast in their unwillingness to provide a four-year guarantee to third baseman Josh Donaldson. On Monday, Jim Bowden indicated that Atlanta had softened that stance and does in fact have a four-year deal on the table for Donaldson.
With bidding for Donaldson becoming increasingly competitive, especially since the Winter Meetings, a fourth year has seemingly become a necessity for any team looking to acquire his services. Many believed that a fourth year was the only sticking point for Donaldson with regards to his desire to return to Atlanta in 2020. If Bowden is correct in saying that the Braves have offered that crucial fourth year, then it would seem that there may be more to the Donaldson sweepstakes than has been reported. Would any team be willing to offer a fifth year?
Whether the Braves secure Donaldson’s services going forward, it certainly appears that they have been aggressive in their pursuit and may have extended well beyond their original comfort zone may have allowed. This is significant not only as it pertains to Donaldson, but to the entire Atlanta offseason as they look to fill a major hole in the middle of their lineup. Offering a fourth year would be a significant step and may foretell an aggressive approach to strengthening their lineup even if Donaldson goes elsewhere.
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Josh Donaldson remains the primary target. But the division-rival Nationals are also showing strong interest, and it remains to be seen whether the Braves will be willing to offer the fourth guaranteed year that might be necessary to secure the 2015 American League MVP Award winner. If Atlanta goes the trade route, the Braves regard the Indians’ Francisco Lindor more highly than the Cubs’ Kris Bryant. But general manager Alex Anthopoulos might end up filling this need with an outfielder. Free agent Marcell Ozuna is an option, but the trade market might be the more optimal way.
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2021: Atlanta Braves. In 2021, you’d be looking at potential prime performances from Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Dansby Swanson (and this is just part of that young core), plus the veteran presences of Freddie Freeman and Ender Inciarte. Add in a little more quality pitching, and chances are, Atlanta should look pretty good.
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