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Sports Twins go commendably off-brand with Donaldson's megadeal

10:10  15 january  2020
10:10  15 january  2020 Source:   thescore.com

Report: Twins pessimistic about landing Donaldson

  Report: Twins pessimistic about landing Donaldson Josh Donaldson's free-agency decision is expected next week, and the Minnesota Twins are bracing for bad news. Minnesota, which offered Donaldson a four-year, $100-million contract, isn't optimistic about its chances of landing the former MVP, according to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. Minnesota, which offered Donaldson a four-year, $100-million contract, isn't optimistic about its chances of landing the former MVP, according to Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.

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Opportunism propelled the Minnesota Twins to an unexpected division title in 2019. To be sure, the club wouldn't have dethroned the Cleveland Indians without considerable steps forward from several key holdovers, but outsized returns on the relatively low-cost additions of Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Martin Perez, Jonathan Schoop, and C.J. Cron in free agency last winter still factored hugely into the club's transformation, wherein it became a 101-win juggernaut one season after finishing 78-84.

It shocked precisely no one, then, that the Twins had seemingly espoused the same approach this offseason.

AP source: Twins, 3B Donaldson agree to $92M, 4-year deal

  AP source: Twins, 3B Donaldson agree to $92M, 4-year deal MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins and 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson have agreed to a $92 million, four-year contract, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday night because the deal had not been announced. The contract includes a club option for a fifth season that would bring the total value to $100 million. The 34-year-old third baseman returned after an injury-spoiled 2018 split between Toronto and Cleveland to bat .259 with 37 homers, 94 RBIs and a .900 OPS for Atlanta last year.

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Donaldson , Twins agree to 4-year deal (source). Donaldson bounced between the Blue Jays and the Indians in 2018 and played only 52 games, but with Atlanta he re-emerged as the All-Star-caliber player he was earlier in his career.

Rather than spend big to consolidate their power in the American League Central, the Twins were decidedly cost-conscious in their offseason wheelings and dealings through the first two weeks of January, ostensibly more intent on maintaining the gains made in 2019 than aspiring to something greater. They brought back right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who accepted his one-year qualifying offer, and re-signed veteran starter Michael Pineda to a two-year, $20-million contract but hadn't done anything remotely sexy in free agency; Homer Bailey's one-year, $7-million deal represented their biggest new addition.

Well, until Tuesday, that is.

With the division ripe for the taking amid the Cleveland Indians' ongoing effort to get worse and less expensive, the Twins made a decidedly off-brand move to seize control of the AL Central, reportedly signing All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson to a four-year deal worth $92 million. His contract also has a team option for 2024 that can increase the total value of the deal to $100 million.

Report: Braves, Nats, Twins table Donaldson offers in 4-year, $100M range

  Report: Braves, Nats, Twins table Donaldson offers in 4-year, $100M range Free-agent third baseman Josh Donaldson is going to get paid whenever he decides what team he wants to play for. The Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, and Washington Nationals are offering Donaldson four-year contracts in the $100-million range, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. The Los Angeles Dodgers are also still in the mix, according to Feinsand. Donaldson, 34, is the last remaining star third baseman available via free agency, so there's noThe Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, and Washington Nationals are offering Donaldson four-year contracts in the $100-million range, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports.

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Never before have the Twins committed that much money to a free agent. Never before have they fielded an Opening Day payroll as large as the one they'll carry in 2020. (Right now, their total outlay is at around $139 million.) Donaldson's deal, moreover, represents the second-biggest ever given to a player age 33 or older, behind only the $105-million contract that Kevin Brown received from the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1998. Given both the state of the AL Central and the medium-term outlook of their roster, though, the Twins had no compelling reason not to go against type, resist their compulsive risk-aversion, and spend big on an impact talent like Donaldson.

For one, the deal unequivocally cements the Twins as the division's best team in the short-term, with the addition of Donaldson ensuring against the probability of regression from some of the club's breakout stars from a year ago. (Between Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Mitch Garver, and Luis Arraez, there were plenty.) Despite his age - he turned 34 a few weeks before New Year's - Donaldson remains one of the game's premier players, having accrued 4.9 WAR while managing a .900 OPS (132 wRC+) and playing exceptional defense over 155 games for the Atlanta Braves in 2019. In short, his presence in the lineup is boon to Minnesota both offensively and defensively; with Donaldson around, the Twins not only get to use Marwin Gonzalez in the super-utility role he's better suited to - he was previously expected to play first base on a regular basis - but can also move the defensively challenged Miguel Sano from third to first. Moreover, Donaldson turns an elite lineup into, potentially, a historically excellent one. The Twins set a major-league record with 307 homers in 2019, after all, and finished with the majors' third-highest wRC+ (116). Juiced ball or not, they're going to continue raking in 2020.

Report: Nats still in Donaldson derby, but Braves considered favorites

  Report: Nats still in Donaldson derby, but Braves considered favorites The Washington Nationals were busy in the free-agent market during the early stages of the new year, and they're not ready to stop just yet. Even after signing multiple infielders this past week, the Nats remain interested in All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson and have left their contract offer to the former AL MVP on the table, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports. Donaldson is being courted by the Nats to replace Anthony Rendon, who left the World Series champions for the Angels earlier this winter. Asdrubal Cabrera, who Washington re-signed this week, would appear to be its starter at the position if the team misses out on the 34-year-old.

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Given his age, of course, the possibility certainly exists that Donaldson loses his mojo in the near future. Considering the composition of their roster, however, the Twins are well equipped to survive should he disintegrate sooner rather than later. (And, unlike his other reported suitors, the Twins play in the American League, allowing Donaldson to slide into a designated hitter role when the time comes.) The Twins have very little long-term money committed, and their only three players currently under contract beyond 2021 (Kepler, Sano, and Polanco) seem destined, in the wake of their impressive 2019 seasons, to earn less down the road than they would've had they simply gone through the arbitration process. Regardless, thanks to the relative youth of Minnesota's core players and the team's prescience in locking up those three building blocks, Donaldson's salary won't preclude the Twins from spending freely - insofar as they do - in 2022 and 2023; even after accounting for Donaldson's $23 million, the Twins have only $44 million on the books for the penultimate season of his deal and less than $42 million for the final year.

Let's not waste too much time analyzing a deal for a 34-year-old star through the lens of its demonstrably inconsequential long-term financial implications, though. Ultimately, the Twins signed Donaldson because he elevates them in the near term from a good team that's still a tier below the league's top clubs to a really good team that will be incredibly difficult to unseat in the AL Central and, more importantly, won't be a pushover again come October.

Sometimes, it seems, even the league's most frugal teams realize it's better to be good than opportunistic.

Jonah Birenbaum is theScore's senior MLB writer. He steams a good ham. You can find him on Twitter @birenball.

Copyright © 2020 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Report: Twins, Sano agree to 3-year, $30M extension .
The Minnesota Twins and third baseman Miguel Sano are in agreement on a three-year contract extension, reports ESPN's Jeff Passan. The deal includes a club option for 2023 and will buy out two years of free agency, Passan adds. Sano's deal is worth $30 million, with his salary totaling $27 million during the first three years, followed by a $14-million club option with a $3-million buyout, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. The deal includes a club option for 2023 and will buy out two years of free agency, Passan adds.

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