Braves free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson rejected the team’s one-year, $17.8 million qualifying offer before Thursday’s 5 p.m. deadline.
Donaldson, coming off a resurgent bounce-back campaign, is seeking a multi-year deal. The Braves hope to retain their clean-up hitter, but he has generated interest from the Rangers, Dodgers, Phillies and Nationals.
Because Donaldson rejected the qualifying offer, the Braves would gain a draft pick, likely a second rounder, if he departs. The team forfeited its second-highest selection Thursday when it signed All-Star reliever Will Smith.
The Braves inked Donaldson to a one-year, $23 million deal last offseason. Donaldson hoped to re-establish his value after an injury-plagued season.
He did just that, hitting .259/.379/.521 with 37 homers, 94 RBIs and 97 runs scored. He added tremendous lineup protection for Freddie Freeman and helped make the Braves one of the league’s most potent groups.
Coming off 97 wins and a second-consecutive division crown, the Braves want to re-sign their slugger. Donaldson, who turns 34 next month, could be in line for a three or four-year contract.
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