MLB Rumors: Braves 3B Josh Donaldson Interests Rangers in Free Agency

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorNovember 8, 2019

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 09:  Josh Donaldson #20 of the Atlanta Braves hits a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fourth inning in game five of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 09, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Friday that the Texas Rangers will take a look at third baseman Josh Donaldson, who spent the 2019 season with the Atlanta Braves

"The Texas Rangers have expressed interest in Josh Donaldson as they head into an offseason in which they have money to spend," Passan wrote. "The Rangers are making third base and starting pitching a priority, and Donaldson is coming off a phenomenal season with Atlanta."

The Braves offered Donaldson a $17.8 million qualifying offer, per David O'Brien of The Athletic, but it is expected that the third baseman will turn it down and officially become a free agent.

The 2015 American League MVP rebounded from an injury-shortened 2018 campaign to post 37 home runs, 94 RBI and a .900 OPS for the National League East-winning Braves, whose 97 wins were the second-most in the Senior Circuit.

Donaldson, who will turn 34 in December, has hit 219 homers and slugged .509 during a nine-year career for the Oakland Athletics, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians and Braves. He is a three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger.

The Rangers currently don't have a long-term answer at third base.

In 2019, six players played the position for Texas. Asdrubal Cabrera appeared there the most with 93 games, but the Rangers released him midseason. Logan Forsythe (33 games) is a free agent, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa (25 games) is a utility infielder who also moonlights at catcher and second base.

Texas is also in need of a little more pop in the lineup after the team finished eighth in the American League in OPS and home runs.

Donaldson can certainly help in that regard, and a move to the second-most hitter-friendly stadium in Globe Life Park in Arlington (per ESPN's MLB Park Factors) could provide a further boost to his numbers.

As Passan noted, the Rangers have some payroll flexibility. Per Cot's Baseball Contracts, the team has just $85,499,999 committed for the 2020 season. That number drops to $40,416,000 in 2021.

For context, Texas has the 19th-highest payroll in the bigs last year at $118,274,435. Unless Texas is planning on cutting costs severely, the room should be there to potentially land Donaldson.

However, the Rangers would have competition in the Braves.

Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos made the following remarks on Donaldson, per O'Brien:

"From the outset, the hope was that he would have a great year and we'd be in this position to bring him back. Obviously, a qualifying offer made sense for us, but we haven't changed our stance that we'd like to have him back, and we'll talk to him. But he's earned the right to test the market and talk to clubs and get a sense of his value. So, we'll keep open communication and dialogue and stay close to his agent, and we're going to have to let the process play out. Ultimately, like I said, it's not salary arbitration, it's free agency. He'll have a chance to see what his value is on the free-agent market, and at that point, hopefully, we can line up on a deal with him."

The Braves' 2020 season begins on Thursday, March 26, in a road matchup with the Arizona Diamondbacks.