The Atlanta Braves are still searching for a power bat that can slide into the middle of the lineup. With Anthony Rendon off the market, the pressure to sign Josh Donaldson has intensified.
Last night, the Los Angeles Angels signed Anthony Rendon to a seven-year, 245 million dollar deal. With Rendon’s signing, a major free agent falls off the board. While most teams weren’t looking to commit that much money or years to one guy, Rendon coming off the board, along with Mike Moustakas, the race to sign Josh Donaldson just went into overdrive.
For the Atlanta Braves, a power bat in the middle of the lineup remains the primary target as the offseason moves along. With a shortage of power bats available, that means the Braves aren’t the only team in the market for Josh Donaldson. The Nationals, Phillies, Dodgers, Rangers, Twins, and Angels have all been interested in obtained Donaldson’s services going into next season. The Angels can be taken off the list with the signing of Rendon. The Dodgers seem focused on getting a Francisco Lindor trade done, however, the Dodgers are always a threat. Reportedly, the Rangers are out with Donaldson’s price tag increasing. So, that leaves the Braves, Phillies, Nationals, and Twins in the mix. While Donaldson prefers the Braves, another team can come over the top with a bigger, better deal. The Braves need to operate with some urgency.
Now, if the Braves do get scooped on a Donaldson deal, the feeling around Atlanta is there is a backup plan in place in Kris Bryant. Bryant is being shopped hard by the Cubs and Theo Epstein this week in San Diego, reportedly. It’s being assumed the Cubs will wait for Donaldson to come off the free agency market to maximize Bryant’s value to the teams still vying for his services. The word around baseball is that the Cubs want to get a deal done with the Braves, but don’t be surprised to see many teams trying to trade for the former NL MVP.
It’s safe to assume the Braves prefer getting a deal done with Josh Donaldson instead of trading for Kris Bryant, for obvious reasons. The Braves know Donaldson is a fit in the Braves lineup and organization after the stellar season he had last year. Bryant would be a great addition to the young core in place but the cost would be so much higher than just the money being paid to him. The prospects it would cost to get Bryant would be pricey, but likely, worth it.
Rendon coming off the board is just one more domino falling before the Donaldson domino. The market has been set for Donaldson with the Moustakas and Rendon signings. Now, the Braves will have to ante up their cash and years if they want to get their guy. If not, going after Bryant is no guarantee and will likely cost more in the long run. Whatever the Braves decide to do, there is a gaping hole in the middle of the Braves lineup that is waiting to be filled.