After the World Series, the former American League MVP will enter the market aiming for one last substantial payday, be it from the Braves or another organization.
“He’s a key part of our team,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who previously acquired Donaldson for the Blue Jays, said. “Great player, complete player. Things we look for. Great offensive player, on-base skills, great defender, intense competitor, toughness. Fits us in every way we want to.
“With that being said, when we entered into this agreement with him, the understanding and the hope was that he’d be in position to rebuild his value. And I believe we positioned ourselves, if all things are equal from a contractual standpoint – I haven’t had this discussion with him or his agent – but I believe this would be where he wants to be. I know he enjoyed it here.”
But all things might not be equal contractually. Donaldson is one of the premier position players on the market despite his age. He’s easily the second-best third baseman, behind only Washington’s Anthony Rendon.
Donaldson, who’s from Florida and went to Auburn, frequently expressed appreciation for playing near home. His previous stops – Oakland, Toronto, Cleveland – weren’t exactly the Deep South. That the Braves won 97 games and Donaldson appeared extremely comfortable should only help matters.
Yet it only takes one team to swing in with a titanic offer, so the Braves won’t speak to their chances of keeping Donaldson at home.
“It’s free agency, it’s not salary arbitration,” Anthopoulos said. “There’s no way to tell. Your value is what that free-agent market will give. What the needs are, supply-demand, which teams. So we’ll talk, we’ll definitely have interest in trying to sign him back, we will engage; to handicap our chances, it’s just too hard to tell.
“The only thing I’ll say is, when both sides have interest, that’s a great starting point.”