Veteran third bagger Josh Donaldson is an unsurprisingly popular target through this stage of the market development. The interest has been so robust that he may even secure a four-year guarantee. We’ve seen the suggestion bandied about in recent days, but MLB.com’s Mark Bowman now reports (via Twitter) that it’s becoming a “growing expectation” that Donaldson will get the fourth campaign.
That length of contract wouldn’t be surprising at all for a player of Donaldson’s stature … were it not for the fact that he just turned 34 yesterday. Ben Zobrist did secure a four-year term a few years back, but more recent free agents have faced greater headwinds in securing promised cash into their late-thirties. And Donaldson seems all but certain to command a much loftier annual salary than Zobrist did.
As it turns out, though, interest in Donaldson is quite robust. While numerous clubs are still grappling over top third baseman Anthony Rendon, only one will get him. Donaldson is far senior to Rendon but was even better at his peak. While the former is no longer a perennial MVP candidate, he easily outperformed the one-year, $23MM bounceback contract he took last season with the Braves and seems a good bet to deliver big production for years to come.
Donaldson hit a ton in his 659 plate appearances in 2019, turning in a .259/.379/.521 slash with 37 homers. He did all that while providing value in the field, with Defensive Runs Saved taking a particularly bullish view. As important was the fact that he played that extensively at all. Donaldson had appeared in 165 contests over the prior two seasons but went the distance in 2019.
Entering the winter, MLBTR predicted that Donaldson would secure a $75MM guarantee over three seasons. If he’s able to get that fourth guaranteed year, it may be at a somewhat lesser single-season rate of pay. But it’s also now conceivable he could threaten nine figures in his next contract.