Josh Donaldson cited three reasons for why he chose not to re-sign with the Braves, opting instead for a contract with the Twins this week. The free-agent third baseman signed a four-year, $100 million guaranteed deal that includes a fifth-year option and incentives that could make the contract worth $104 million.
The 34-year-old slugger said that financially the Twins offer was not in the “same realm” as others, that the Braves did not offer until late in the process and that he has always hit well at Target Field.
Donaldson spoke to Channel 2 Action News after an LPGA pro-am event in Orlando on Friday.
“It was tough to make that decision, but ultimately (the Twins offer) wasn’t in the same realm for me as far as financially is concerned,” Donaldson said of his decision to leave the Braves after a one-year stint. “Ultimately, this is my 13th year in the big leagues and I’ve been on a lot of one-year contracts. The Twins were in a position where they could offer me a lengthy deal where I thought it was right for me and my family and ultimately that is what the decision came down to.
“Obviously, I’ve hit really well there at their stadium, and I think their team is going to be really good, and I think our lineup is going to be something pretty special.”
Donaldson was asked whether the Braves’ offer to keep him was competitive. It turns out it came near the end of his decision-making process, he said.
“No. They ended up offering me late, like a day or so before, but it just didn’t work out unfortunately because I really enjoyed my time there.
“I think that was a good fit for me and I feel very fortunate and blessed to put on the uniform of the team that I grew up watching. It was a dream come true to be able to play there. Ultimately it didn’t end up the way that we wanted it to. At the end I’m looking forward to being in Minnesota and hopefully making big things happen there.”
Donaldson has played in 22 games at Target Field and hit .373 with 10 home runs and 21 RBIs. He as an on-base percentage of .464 and a slugging percentage of .819.
Donaldson hit 37 home runs and had 94 RBIs while batting .259 as the Braves won 97 games on the way to the National League East title. Their playoff ended with a series loss to the Cardinals, in which Donaldson was 3-for-19 (.158 average) with one homer and four strikeouts in five games.
The three-time All-Star and 2015 American League MVP signed a one-year, $23 million deal with the Braves after two consecutive injury-filled seasons. He was healthy all season for the Braves and appeared in 155 games.
The loss of Donaldson leaves the Braves without a power bat in the middle of the lineup and with a presumed hole at third base, as he was an Gold Glove finalist last season.
“Ultimately, everyone understands the situation of what players are going through that time,” Donaldson said of the relationships formed in Atlanta.
“I made a lot of relationships there as well. I’m grateful for being able to make those and I wish those guys on that team and that organization nothing but the best. … It’s tough to do this (free agency) but you come to grips with it and understand. At the end of the day, those relationships will always be there.”
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