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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Slugger Josh Donaldson agrees to $92 million deal with Twins

Frustrated in their attempts to land an established ace in free agency, the Twins on Tuesday acquired a player who will help the team’s pitching staff in an underrated way:

They won’t have to face Josh Donaldson anymore.

Donaldson, who owns the highest batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage of any opponent in Twins history, on Tuesday accepted the largest free-agent contract the team has ever agreed to - a four-year deal that guarantees the 34-year-old third baseman $92 million.

Those terms — an average annual salary of $21 million, plus an option for a fifth year in 2024 that could bring the total to more than $100 million, or a buyout worth $8 million — dwarf the $54 million guarantee that Ervin Santana received five years ago, which stood until now as the priciest deal lavished on an outsider.

Am I missing anyone important, or does this mean that we’re out of players to discuss around the hot stove?

 

QLE Posted: January 15, 2020 at 12:30 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: contracts, hot stove, josh donaldson, twins

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: January 15, 2020 at 02:20 AM (#5915869)
Looks like a solid deal for the Twins. Reported contract terms making more sense -- "more than $100" might mean $105 ... or at least $104 or y'know, something such that the marginal cost of the option year is more than $8. Obviously he could collapse or get hurt again but last year was everything you could have hoped to see after 2018 and just repeating 2019 is worth half this contract.

Not that it was gonna happen but this is the sort of deal I'd rather not see the Cubs pass on. It's the sort of deal I'd be happy to move KB to the OF permanently for; or the sort of deal that would keep me from getting too annoyed at trading KB (assuming talent came back).

Are the Cards sold on Edman or are they stuck on Arenado? The Nats wouldn't beat this? They went 3/$24 on Harris, 2/$12 on Castro, 2/$11 on Hudson, 1/$6.25 on Kendrick, 2/$10 on Gomes, 1/$4 on Thames, 1/$2.5 on Asdrubal. I'm pretty confident I'd rather have Donaldson at 4/$92 than Rendon at 7/$245.

Maybe I'm forgetting somebody but this looks like the impact bargain of the offseason.
   2. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: January 15, 2020 at 09:18 AM (#5915890)
On the option year: he'll be 38 that season. As such, it would hardly be surprising if his actual value were less than 8 mil at that time (through some combination of loss of effectiveness and reduced playing time - either maybe through injury. also, he's probably a 1b/dh by then)...
These terms also topped the predictions made on both mlbtr (3/75) and fg (kiley: 3/71).
   3. Zonk WARRIORS ALONE! Posted: January 15, 2020 at 09:58 AM (#5915909)
I presume this moves Sano to 1B?
   4. DL from MN Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:00 AM (#5915910)
Am I missing anyone important, or does this mean that we’re out of players to discuss around the hot stove?


Marcell Ozuna?
   5. DL from MN Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:02 AM (#5915912)
The Twins were already planning on moving Sano to 1B. I think the real impact is replacing Marwin Gonzalez at 3B and moving him back to a super-sub role.
   6. DCA Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:07 AM (#5915917)
Reports were that Donaldson was giving the Braves the opportunity to match any offer. Surprised that they didn't go for this. And if they knew they were going to pass on this, surprised that they didn't outbid the Rangers for Frazier.

The in-house option is some combo of Riley/Camargo, which isn't terrible, but is a steep drop from Donaldson.

Brock Holt and Brian Dozier are probably the top remaining FA, but aren't really any better than Riley/Camargo.

The rumor mill is already pushing Bryant to Atlanta, but I really have a hard time seeing it. They could also get involved in the Arenado intrigue, either directly or by picking up Carpenter in a side deal.
   7. Zonk WARRIORS ALONE! Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:09 AM (#5915918)
The Twins were already planning on moving Sano to 1B. I think the real impact is replacing Marwin Gonzalez at 3B and moving him back to a super-sub role.


Which I presume counts as another positive? I.e., his line looks a bit stretched in a full-time role, but if he's the guy roving all over giving guys a day off?

The pitching still looks a bit thin, but how surprised would anyone be if the Twins posted the record in the AL next year? I suppose you'd still put the Yankees as the favorite and a lot depends on how much you think the turmoil of the can banging hits the Astros...
   8. DCA Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:09 AM (#5915919)
Re: Sano. He's been hurt a lot. Though I haven't been paying attention to cause. Is there any reason to believe that moving him to 1B (or soon, DH) will help keep him in the lineup?
   9. Zonk WARRIORS ALONE! Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:10 AM (#5915921)
The rumor mill is already pushing Bryant to Atlanta, but I really have a hard time seeing it.


There is more than ample talent I could see turning this into a trade that wouldn't upset me (as a Cubs fan), but I doubt the Braves would pay the price I'd like.
   10. Zonk WARRIORS ALONE! Posted: January 15, 2020 at 10:12 AM (#5915923)
Brock Holt and Brian Dozier are probably the top remaining FA, but aren't really any better than Riley/Camargo.


You could toss defense and move Castellanos back to 3B...
   11. bigglou115 is not an Illuminati agent Posted: January 15, 2020 at 11:42 AM (#5915975)
@6, I don't know if I would say Camargo and Riley aren't terrible. In 87 ABs in the second half Riley put up a 22 wRC+ and had the look of being completely overmatched. I think there's real implosion risk there.

Camargo put up a 66 wRC+ last year, his good side was 73 wRC+ as a righty. He managed to accumulate -.5 fWAR. He doesn't even appear to be a good defensive 3B.

It's terribly crude, but if you smash them together they played about 180 games and accumulated -.3 fWAR.

They could be better. Camargo was a serviceable player on 2018 and Riley showed the tools in early 2019. But no "contender" should really be looking at them as an answer, especially when they're already carrying Markakis/Duvall as a supposed platoon in LF.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: January 15, 2020 at 11:51 AM (#5915977)
I thought Riley was a big prospect and 3B of the future. What happened?
   13. aberg Posted: January 15, 2020 at 12:27 PM (#5916001)
Re: Sano. He's been hurt a lot. Though I haven't been paying attention to cause. Is there any reason to believe that moving him to 1B (or soon, DH) will help keep him in the lineup?


Injuries have largely been related to his weight. He came in significantly lighter last year and had his healthiest season. I have heard people attribute that to the team telling him he's playing 3B, so he felt he needed to stay in shape, but I'm skeptical. I also heard a story that the team chefs brought in Sano's wife and taught her how to cook things that aren't fried in lard. It sounds like a very 1950s baseball story, but he DID stay lighter last year, so who knows. Also, Sano was, at best, a below-average 3B. Getting him to 1B and replacing him with an above-average (or better) 3B seems like a very important thing in an IF that has pretty marginal gloves up the middle. Donaldson won't help run prevention as much as Wheeler or Ryu could have, but he will have a postive impact.

The Twins lineup is going to be scary good. It'll probably look something like:
1. Arraez 2b
2. Polanco SS
3. Kepler RF
4. Cruz DH
5. Donaldson 3b
6. Rosario LF
7. Sano 1b
8. Garver C
9. Buxton CF

Cave is a good enough 4th OF that I wouldn't mind trading Rosario and prospects to get another SP. Avila should be a good LH backup to the very RH Garver. Adrianza is a fine utility IF. Astudillo can do a little of everthing. Wade is in the wings as a decent OF reserve.

I also feel really good about the depth in the pen after bringing back Romo and adding Clippard. Rogers is awesome. Duffey and Littell really came on last year under Johnson's coaching. Even if only one of the two maintains the improvement, they still have the solid May, plus a lot of long options.

The rotation is a work in progress. In order of ability, the SP mix probably looks something like this:

1. Berrios
2. Odorizzi
3. Pineda
4. Hill
5. Graterol
6. Bailey
7. Dobnak
8. Thorpe
9. Smeltzer

Of course, 3 is suspended to start the year, 4 is hurt until mid-year, and 5 probably needs to pitch out of the pen to limit his innings. That leaves a pretty unimpressive rotation for the opening 6 weeks. Hill is far from a sure thing even once he heals, and Graterol is an unknown commodity at the big-league level. I'm fine with one of Dobnak or Thorpe as the 5th starter, but I would much prefer if they were able to get someone like Ray or Boyd via trade before finishing the off-season.
   14. Zonk WARRIORS ALONE! Posted: January 15, 2020 at 12:47 PM (#5916016)
I thought Riley was a big prospect and 3B of the future. What happened?


He seems to be turning into Ian Stewart.
   15. aberg Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:05 PM (#5916030)
I will also say that I'm happy the Twins disproved the trollish fans who kept saying all offseason that they didn't really want to sign anyone, that the front office were puppets for the Pohald family who would never spend money, and that they made intentional low-ball offers to Wheeler and Ryu so they could leak that they made offers but wouldn't have to actually spend money. Those people are stupid and I'm glad they were proven foolish.
   16. bbmck Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:05 PM (#5916031)
ESPN Top 50 Unsigned Free Agents:

13 - Nicholas Castellanos 2.7 WAR in 2019
14 - Marcell Ozuna 2.2
26 - Brock Holt 1
33 - Cameron Maybin 1.5

42 - Hunter Pence 1.7
43 - Yasiel Puig 1.4
44 - Robinson Chirinos 3.8
47 - Ben Zobrist -0.1
49 - Brian Dozier 0.7
   17. Der-K's emotional investment is way up Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:12 PM (#5916035)
Chirinos went to Texas.
   18. Ziggy is done with Dominican discotheques Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:54 PM (#5916079)
Donaldson has been better than I thought. It's too bad he was such a late bloomer. With an earlier start this guy is a hall of famer.

And the contract is fine. He's old, but except for one injury, he's been very consistent. There's downside to it, especially two or three years from now, but this is the Twins' window and this is the kind of contract you need to sign when your window opens.
   19. DL from MN Posted: January 15, 2020 at 01:58 PM (#5916083)
Nelson Cruz has been a tremendously positive influence on Miguel Sano
   20. Baldrick Posted: January 15, 2020 at 02:19 PM (#5916110)
Donaldson has been better than I thought. It's too bad he was such a late bloomer. With an earlier start this guy is a hall of famer.

It would obviously still take some work, but he's already got a great HOF prime. Five more years as a 3 WAR player and he's borderline. One or two more really good seasons and he's even better situated. I certainly wouldn't bet on it, but doesn't take a serious stretch of probability to make it possible.
   21. Rusty Priske Posted: January 15, 2020 at 02:24 PM (#5916118)
Disappointing for Donaldson if that was the best he could get. Reports had him aiming for $110m.
   22. PreservedFish Posted: January 15, 2020 at 02:29 PM (#5916125)
The Twins lineup is going to be scary good.


I don't ever recall hearing this before. What a strange time to be a Twins fan.
   23. JJ1986 Posted: January 15, 2020 at 02:31 PM (#5916128)
33 - Cameron Maybin 1.5
43 - Yasiel Puig 1.4
This is weird ordering.
   24. flournoy Posted: January 15, 2020 at 02:41 PM (#5916146)
I thought Riley was a big prospect and 3B of the future. What happened?


He pulled a Francoeur and hit like gangbusters when called up, then quickly bottomed out. He's still a candidate to hit like something resembling his initial call-up self at some point in the future, so he easily could wind up being the third baseman of the future. But the Braves will be trying to make a pennant run, and need another option in case he stumbles again.

EDIT:

First 93 PA  .307/.344/.648
Next 105 PA  .221/.295/.505
Last 99 PA   .154/.202/.265



He quickly went from incredible (albeit with no plate discipline - very Francoeuresque), to passable, to unplayable.
   25. bfan Posted: January 15, 2020 at 03:24 PM (#5916176)

You could toss defense and move Castellanos back to 3B...


It has been tossed the minute you sign him, even if you put him in LF.
   26. Zonk WARRIORS ALONE! Posted: January 15, 2020 at 03:35 PM (#5916187)
The Twins lineup is going to be scary good.

I don't ever recall hearing this before. What a strange time to be a Twins fan.


I've never been a huge Twins fan - but BITD, they were nominally my favorite AL team (then-GF was a big Twins fan) - the hanky dome versions of the late 80s/early 90s had pretty good offenses. Refreshing my memory on bbref, not as 1-9 great as I recall... though - I'm also probably missing an era adjustment or two.

   27. Walt Davis Posted: January 15, 2020 at 03:49 PM (#5916198)
he'll be 38 that season. As such, it would hardly be surprising if his actual value were less than 8 mil at that time

Sure, there's a very good chance he'll be worth $0 for his age 38 season. That's not a reason to put a $8 M marginal cost on an option though. He could be worth $16 M at age 38 (a Beltran or McCutchen type signing) and having that option out there just cost him $8 M. Basically, the Twins only pass on that option if he's toast, otherwise Donaldson at best breaks even.

Options on longer-term contracts at least, are "supposed" to be priced such that the marginal cost means:

a) if the player is essentially done, the option never gets exercised no matter the price
b) if the player is still "good", the option assures the player is still paid reasonbly "fairly"
c) if the player is somewhere in between, then the team either has to gamble and keep him or let him go and he can get a contract of about the same value.

An $8 M marginal option on a contract like this pretty much gets rid of (c) and keeps him from being paid "fairly" if he is good. (Or, in another sense, it makes him a bigger bargain in the first 4 years.) The marginal cost of the option isn't meant to be priced at what the player is expected to be worth in year X but at some price higher than that. It's a contingent clause that provides a benefit to the team IF the player ages well but protects the player from getting "ripped off" if he ages well. If he ages as expected then the team doesn't exercise the option and the player gets whatever his market rate is. A team option should be priced such that there's a reasonable chance the team will have a difficult decision to make -- maybe this guy is worth $13 M, maybe he's only worth $8, grrr.

   28. Walt Davis Posted: January 15, 2020 at 04:01 PM (#5916209)
Grrr... mis-stated that. The option is properly priced if, assuming the player is still reasonably good, the total salary for year X (buyout plus marginal) "overpays" the player but the marginal cost "underpays" the player.

So let's assume Donaldson is 4x$21 + $8 buyout on a $21 M option. The marginal cost to the Twins is then $13 M. Then if after 2023 Donaldson is expected to still be a 2-WAR player then ... $21 M is high for a 2-WAR player but $13 M is maybe a little cheap or about right. That's possibly a tough decision for the Twins and maybe they pass on the option -- in which case Donaldson should still be able to go out and get a $10-13 M contract somewhere else.

So Donaldson "wins" if he's not worth $8 M because he gets the buyout (and might still get a $3 M contract somewhere if he wants). The Twins "win" if he's worth more than $13 (because the $8 is a sunk cost). Both sides roughly break even if he's in the middle.
   29. aberg Posted: January 15, 2020 at 04:06 PM (#5916213)
The 65 team headlined by Oliva, Killebrew, Versalles, and Allison was pretty loaded, too.

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