Atlanta Braves: Josh Donaldson
The Braves signed former MVP third baseman Josh Donaldson to a one-year deal last winter with the hopes that he could get healthy and approach All-Star levels once again. For Donaldson, the one-year deal was a chance to play close to his Alabama roots and re-establish his value for another crack at free agency. Suffice to say, the one-year arrangement could not have worked out better for both sides.
Donaldson hit .259/.379/.521 with 33 doubles, 37 home runs, 94 RBI and 100 walks to give the Braves a third elite hitter in their deep lineup. He is also a finalist for the National League Gold Glove at third base and was worth 6.1 bWAR this year to lead the team. Donaldson also helped add to the winning culture in Atlanta, with the team’s young position players seeming to gravitate to his fiery personality.
Going forward, it makes sense for the Braves and Donaldson to work out a multi-year deal. The 33-year-old third baseman was clearly a fit in the lineup and clubhouse. This is Donaldson’s final chance to cash in as a free agent, and he won’t be giving any hometown discounts.
Without a clear replacement should they lose Donaldson, the Braves need to find the money to keep him. He is an impact player at the plate and in the field and is also valuable for the intangibles he brings.
Atlanta is a perfect fit for Donaldson as he plays out his prime years. A three-year deal with an easily-attainable option for a fourth year should be enough to keep the third baseman with the Braves.