A fourth guaranteed year has been said to be the lynchpin in any potential deal for third baseman Josh Donaldson this winter, leaving interested teams in a precarious spot as they play chicken with the veteran’s representatives. The Braves, in particular, could be in something of a no-mans-land if they miss out on Donaldson, as they would lose their incumbent starter and potentially see a league rival (Nationals, Dodgers) strengthen their lineup at the same time. As David O’Brien of The Athletic sees it, the team’s two recourses in the event of a Donaldson departure may be the exploration of trades for either Kris Bryant of the Cubs or Nolan Arenado of the Rockies—and neither of those options is entirely realistic in the writer’s eyes. For Bryant, his ongoing grievance with the Cubs adds a fair bit of uncertainty for any interested trade partner. While the Cubs are, as O’Brien puts it, “widely expected” to win that grievance hearing and maintain two years of control on Bryant, it’s not impossible that the tide could swing in Bryant’s favor and leave him with just one year left.
When it comes to Arenado, O’Brien seems merely skeptical that Atlanta would be willing to swallow a contract of that magnitude, considering that the $35MM annual salaries in Arenado’s deal would more than double the highest salary that Braves star Ronald Acuna will make in the final years of the eight-year, $100MM extension he signed in April. Then again, Donaldson has reportedly given the Braves the right of last refusal on any potential deal, so it may well be that Atlanta ends up viewing a four-year Donaldson deal as the most reasonable course of action. Given that Washington and Minnesota have reportedly made four-year offers already, this may be a case of a player waiting for his preferred team to blink.
More from around the NL…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post sees no such obstacle standing in the way of an Arenado-Mets pairing. As Sherman notes, the team’s ability to save as much as $23.5MM in the Yoenis Cespedes adjustment may give them some crucial breathing room to entertain a truly franchise-altering blockbuster. Additionally, the club may be well served to counter the Yankees Gerrit Cole addition with a headline-grabbing move of their own, and Steve Cohen’s continued negotiations with the Sterling partners to become the majority owner of the Mets may offer them some added financial backbone in the near future. Still, a deal for Arenado would realistically cost the team not just payroll space, but also a talented young player of the Jeff McNeil variety—not exactly an easy price to pay in its own right.
- Nationals organizational outfielder Yadiel Hernandez will be extended an invite to big league Spring Training in recognition of his excellent 2019 season in Triple-A, reports Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post. Dougherty adds that Hernandez will get at least a “small look” in camp, after a ’19 campaign in which the 32-year-old hit .323/.406/.604 with 33 home runs. It’s not exactly common to see 32-year-old rookies, but there does come a point where, juiced ball caveats aside, a player’s performance demands at least a trial run at the highest level. Plus, Hernandez did come over with a fair amount of recognition as an international signing out of Cuba in advance of the 2017 season. As things stand now, the champs will enter 2020 with Michael A. Taylor and Andrew Stevenson as bench outfielders.