The Braves and Josh Donaldson bet on each other when they linked up on a one-year deal last November. They both struck gold.
MLB named Donaldson the National League Comeback Player of the Year on Wednesday. The soon-to-be 34-year-old played in 155 games, hitting 37 homers with 94 RBIs, after playing in 52 games the season before.
Donaldson was slowed by a left-calf injury that spoiled his final season with the Blue Jays. He was traded to Cleveland, with whom he played 16 games down the stretch, and showed he was getting healthier.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who had acquired Donaldson when in the Blue Jays front office, saw a mutually beneficial opportunity. He would upgrade his lineup, third-base spot and depth with a hefty one-year offer. Donaldson, meanwhile, could rebuild his value back home in the South under a familiar administration.
It was a resounding success. Donaldson was a force in the cleanup spot, helping Freddie Freeman to arguably his best campaign. He was also reliable defensively, providing a steady hand at third and the occasional eye-opening play.
Donaldson helped the Braves to 97 wins and their second consecutive NL East title. He re-entered free agency as one of the better position players available, primed for a multi-year commitment.
That could come from the Braves, who insist they want to retain their slugger. Whatever the future holds, the Braves-Donaldson 2019 pairing went as hoped.
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