Donaldson’s bet on himself hit the jackpot. He’s nicely positioned to earn a major payday in the coming weeks, be it with the Braves or another contending club. The Twins and Nationals remain two of the more aggressive suitors for the 34-year-old.
He single-handily controls the remainder of the Braves’ offseason. The team doesn’t seem inclined to shift to a plan B until he’s made his decision. There’s not a worthy alternative on the free-agent market, meaning the club would have to trade to address its gaping power hole (if Donaldson leaves).
Instead of denting the farm system to absorb the contract of, say, Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, there’s an argument for giving Donaldson his desired four-year deal, retaining the prospects and keeping a promising core intact. The Braves would have prospect capital available for another move, should that come before opening day or at the deadline.
Still, that Donaldson hasn’t signed yet is intriguing, especially if the team has made a four-year offer. He’ll be compensated handsomely wherever he goes, and if that’s Atlanta, it’s a home-run offseason for the Braves. They also acquired All-Star reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels and catcher Travis d’Arnaud. They kept relievers Chris Martin and Darren O’Day, along with veteran catcher Tyler Flowers and Nick Markakis.
But if Donaldson winds up in a different uniform, previous offseason moves will be overshadowed by the team’s lone need in the cleanup spot. If the Braves pay him what he’s seeking, the offseason should keep them among the National League’s elite. However it ends for the Braves, it’s a good time to be Donaldson.