Before the holidays, the Twins offered Josh Donaldson a four-year, $84MM contract that would have made him the second-highest paid player in team history after Joe Mauer, writes Phil Miller in a profile well worth a read from the Star Tribune. Another interesting tidbit from Miller confirmed that Zack Wheeler had been the Twins’ primary target at the outset of the offseason, shifting only to Donaldson after missing out on Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Donaldson offered a potent bat, of course, but the ability to improve their infield defense at third (and by effect, their pitching) also keyed the Twins on the Bringer of Rain.
Donaldson and his agent Dan Lozano fielded recruitment efforts from all corners of the Minnesota Twins extended universe before committing, from Miguel Sano over video eagerly offering to accommodate Donaldson by changing positions, to a former tennis professional and friend of Donaldson’s who happens to be a Twins fan, to the substantial recruitment effort put in ink by Twins’ ownership when they offered him a four-year, $92MM contract. The fifth year, $16MM team option helped push the deal over the edge, especially once the Twins’ agreed to set the buyout amount at $8MM. If the option is picked up, the deal becomes a five-year, $100MM pact.
Some of the heaviest lifting was done in a meeting between Donaldson, Lozano, Twins’ manager Rocco Baldelli, General Manager Thad Levine and Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey. Baldelli sold Donaldson on clubhouse culture and his plans for deploying Donaldson. The front office put together metrics on their 2019 success and profiled some of the talent on its way to Minneapolis from the minor leagues, establishing a belief that the Twins will remain in contention throughout Donaldson’s tenure.
Misinformation persisted in the media throughout, with Lozano suspected of leaking the $110MM asking price in the hopes of a team with deep pockets (like the Dodgers) matching the number. It worked, in a way, as the Twins realized Donaldson must not have had the offer he wanted, so they set out with renewed enthusiasm (and more money). Obviously, $100MM turned out to be the magic number.