The Braves signed former MVP third baseman Josh Donaldson on Monday, reuniting him with general manager Alex Anthopoulos. The team announced the deal Monday night.
Donaldson, who turns 33 next month, played for Anthopoulos in Toronto from 2015-17, winning MVP his first year with the club. It was widely considered Anthopoulos’ shrewdest move, sending a prospect package to Oakland for a player who’d emerge as one of the best in the game.
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After battling injuries through parts of the season, Donaldson hit .246/.352/.449 with eight homers and 23 RBIs over 52 games last season with the Blue Jays and Indians. It was far below Donaldson’s standards, but the Braves’ hope is he’s healthy and can recapture even his 2017 form, when he hit .270 with 33 home runs and 78 RBIs.
While Toronto was trying to contend from 2015-17, Donaldson hit .285 with a .946 OPS, slugging 111 homers with 300 RBIs.
When the Braves hired Anthopoulos, he looked back on the Donaldson trade with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He cited Donaldson’s durability, which has eroded over the past two seasons, but also referenced his mentality.
“At the end of 2014, we talked about, as an organization, changing some things and going after a certain type of player, a certain mentality,” he said. “Guys that can play through things, guys who are tough. Donaldson … he’s a great player, but that ‘games played’ column was unbelievable. ... There’s a type of mentality that player brings that can rub off on other teammates. It’s hard to quantify that type of stuff.
“I believe wholeheartedly there are players who can make other players better. ... There’s a certain type of player we were going to target from that day forward, and those were some of the things we learned from getting Donaldson and (Russell) Martin. There was a certain theme there to that team.”
Despite Anthopoulos recently saying he was content with current infield, Donaldson presents the chance at a major upgrade. The Braves reportedly nabbed the Florida native on one-year, $23 million deal, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
Given the lucrative payment, Johan Camargo is likely shifted into a utility role. But that upgrades the Braves’ bench while adding a power hitter into the middle of the lineup.
The Braves boast a theoretical top four of Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, Freddie Freeman and Josh Donaldson. Its ceiling will be determined by Donaldson’s rebound.