The Nationals are “ready to pivot” to Josh Donaldson as an alternative at third base, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. It’s a longstanding connection, but the circumstances have shifted of late.
If this report is read most expansively, it might suggest that the Nats have all but given up their pursuit of Anthony Rendon, the superstar they drafted and helped to develop into one of the game’s best players. But the organization has been unwilling to rule out that possibility in the wake of the re-signing of Stephen Strasburg.
At minimum, it sounds as if the Nationals believe they’re likely to need a replacement for Rendon as he continues to draw suitors. That’s an awfully tall order, but the club certainly isn’t lowering its standards with its reported targets to date. In addition to considering Donaldson, the Nats are also said to have checked in on the trade availability of Kris Bryant.
If indeed the Nats do make a full-court press for Donaldson, they’ll need to stand out among several other contenders for his services. The division-rival Braves and Phillies are among them, along with the Dodgers, Rangers, and perhaps others. With loads of market appetite and a relative dearth of alternatives, particularly now that Mike Moustakas has signed with the Reds as a second baseman, Donaldson is seen as increasingly likely to command a four-year deal.
The Nationals have proven time and again that they’ll pay top dollar for free agents. In addition to the deals they got done, the club heavily pursued players such as Jason Heyward and Yoenis Cespedes. Whether they’ll come away with Donaldson can’t be known at the moment, but dedicated involvement from the D.C. organization is unquestionably a boon to his earning power.