With Anthony Rendon off the market, teams looking for third base upgrades could do a lot worse than Josh Donaldson, the top remaining free agent at the position. The Twins are one of the teams that remains linked to Donaldson, according to Darren Wolfson of SKOR North, though they are perhaps positioned on the periphery of the race to land Donaldson.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal cites the Nationals—who suddenly find themselves lacking at the hot corner with Rendon’s departure—and the Braves as the two frontrunners for the 34-year-old slugger, and as Wolfson notes, Minnesota may struggle to compete with the familiarity the Braves offer or the raw dollar amount the Nats could bring to the table.
Donaldson is said to be seeking a four-year deal, and a team’s willingness to go to that length could very well be the deciding factor for his camp. The Rangers, frequently mentioned as a suitor for Donaldson, have reportedly backed off their pursuit for that very reason, and the first team to concede on that front may wind up with Donaldson. We’ll see just how far Minnesota is willing to go for Donaldson, who would be 37 years old in the fourth year of a hypothetical contract. For what it’s worth, MLBTR predicted in early November that Donaldson would land a three-year deal in his second straight crack at free agency.
The Twins have hardly been ones to make a splash with their spending in recent years, but last year made a savvy signing in the form of Nelson Cruz, who catalyzed an offense that rates among the best in recent memory. And with a fair amount of payroll flexibility this winter, they’ve long been rumored to be players for names like Donaldson or pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu. And one could argue that the team’s resources would be better spent on a rotation upgrade, particularly in light of the recent departures of Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez in free agency.
While the market for third basemen appears to be thinning, there’s no shortage of contending teams that could stand to upgrade at the position. That could mean a more competitive market for the likes of Donaldson and trade candidates Kris Bryant and Kyle Seager. Teams who refuse to go to a fourth year for Donaldson and who can’t meet the Cubs’ demands for Bryant could pivot to the likes of Seager or Maikel Franco as cheaper, yet still serviceable, options. For the Twins, keep an eye on those names should Donaldson prove too rich for their blood, though there’s still an outside chance they win the bidding war.