The Rangers seemingly finished in second place for Rendon, but were unwilling to go to the depths that the Angels did. Fair enough. That would seem to make them the most obvious candidate to land Donaldson, who would provide some right-handed thump for a team that’s awfully dependent on left-handed hitters.
Nothing has changed about Donaldson’s game, but his market has come into focus. As such, we decided to highlight the five teams believed to have the best chances at landing him.
On Wednesday, free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon with the Los Angeles Angels. For Rendon, the deal represents the end of his winter journey. For Josh Donaldson, who is the next best available third baseman on the open market, .
Labeling Donaldson as a downmarket alternative to Rendon is unfair — even if he does rank below Rendon here due in part to their age gap. (Donaldson will turn 34 in December; Rendon isn’t yet 30.) Donaldson stayed healthy this season for the first time in three tries, and proved that he’s still a middle-of-the-order thumper with a good glove at the hot corner. He’s unlikely to receive his rumored desire of a four-year deal — and some age-related decline is to be expected over the next couple seasons — but so long as he’s hearty and hale he should be a nifty addition for a contender who is unwilling to shell out what Rendon demands.
The Dodgers don’t actually need a third baseman, but if they’re serious about adding impact then Donaldson should be on their radar. Given how Andew Friedman whiffed on Gerrit Cole and Rendon, he might want to instead try his hand at trading for a star.
Entering the offseason, we ranked Donaldson as the fourth-best available free agent. Here’s what we wrote at the time:
The league had Rendon leaving D.C. even before Mike Rizzo locked up Stephen Strasburg, so the Nationals inking Donaldson has seemed like a distinct possibility for a while. The Nationals might appear to have more incentive to get a deal done here than the Rangers or most other teams — they have a well-below-average farm system, limiting their trade options — but the wild card here is if they believe top prospect Carter Kieboom is ready to take over at the hot corner.
The Phillies already added Didi Gregorius to the left side of their infield this week. It’s possible they double-dip and sign Donaldson, then shop incumbent shortstop Jean Segura. Segura has bounced around a lot in recent years and doesn’t receive high marks as a clubhouse presence, but he should draw some interest as a shortstop with a track record of hitting.