Rain Heading to Land of 10,000 Lakes
The Twins had been mentioned on the periphery of the Josh Donaldson sweepstakes, but were never considered the favorites to land the 34-year-old slugger. For weeks it seemed, the rumor mill had Donaldson with three offers on the table -- all likely in excess of $100 million -- from the Braves, Nationals and Twins.
Over the last week, with the Nationals shoring up their infield with the signings of Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Howie Kendrick and Eric Thames, most prognosticators took it as a sign that Donaldson was deciding to re-sign with the Braves -- where he starred during the 2019 season.
Then, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com dropped a bombshell on Tuesday evening, announcing that Donaldson had agreed to a four-year deal with the Twins worth at least $92 million guaranteed. That $92 million includes an $8 million buyout of a $16 million club option for a fifth season.
It’s far and away the largest deal given to any free agent in Twins’ franchise history, blowing Ervin Santana’s four-year, $55 million contract signed prior to the 2015 season out of the water.
Since Donaldson declined the Braves’ qualifying offer, the Twins will also have to give up their third round pick in June’s draft.
The oft-injured superstar bet on himself last offseason when he signed a one-year deal with the Braves, and it certainly appears to have paid off for him. Donaldson slashed .259/.379/.521 with 37 homers and 94 RBI over 155 games -- finishing 11th in the voting for the National League MVP award.
Donaldson will add his power to the middle of a Twins’ lineup that crushed an MLB-record 307 home runs during the 2019 campaign. He’ll slot in as the club’s everyday third baseman, pushing the incumbent Miguel Sano over to first base -- which should drastically improve the club’s infield defense.
Donaldson has also really enjoyed hitting at Target Field during his career, slashing .373/.464/.819 with 10 homers and 21 RBI over 97 plate appearances in his 22 games played there.
From a fantasy perspective, this destination is unlikely to move the needle much on Donaldson’s average draft position. He’s currently going off the board just outside the top 100 players overall, and should continue to be taken right in that same range. The move to the American League is probably a small boost for his counting stats overall.
With the Braves missing out on re-signing Donaldson, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that they’re now expected to revisit trade negotiations for Cubs’ third baseman Kris Bryant. They may also revisit talks with the Rockies about acquiring superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado.
Cheaters Never Win
Astros’ owner Jim Crane didn’t waste any time on Monday. As soon as MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred handed down one-year suspensions to general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch in the wake of their sign-stealing scandal, Crane held his own press conference to announce that both men had been relieved of their duties with the organization.
In addition to the one-year suspensions for Luhnow and Hinch, the team was also levied a $5 million fine and the Astros will lose their first and second round picks in each of the next two drafts.
Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported that current bench coach Joe Espada was the favorite to take over as the team’s interim manager, though no official decision has been made yet on that end. Crane also announced Monday that in the near-term, he will personally take over the club’s baseball operations.
The Red Sox followed suit on Tuesday. While the official punishment of Alex Cora has still yet to be handed down from Major League Baseball, the Red Sox announced their decision to part ways with Cora after two seasons at the helm.
In an official statement, Principal Owner John Henry, Chairman Tom Werner and CEO Sam Kennedy said they, along with Cora, “collectively decided that it would not be possible for Alex to effectively lead the club going forward and we mutually agreed to part ways.”
Cora was, and still is, facing significant punishment from Major League Baseball for his involvement in the Astros' sign-stealing scandal in 2017, when he was the bench coach in Houston. There have also been allegations that Cora led a similar cheating operation in his first year as the Red Sox manager in 2018.
With spring training less than a month away, the Red Sox will look to fill their new opening as quickly as possible. Like with the Astros’ job, Red Sox’ acting bench coach Ron Roenicke is likely to garner serious consideration and would make for a seamless transition from Cora.
American League Quick Hits: According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Rangers’ pursuit of Nicholas Castellanos “remains active as of today”. ... The Twins officially announced their three-year, $30 million extension with Miguel Sano. … The Tigers signed veteran right-hander Ivan Nova to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. To free up a spot on the 40-man roster, Matt Hall was designated for assignment. … The Athletics acquired Tony Kemp from the Cubs for minor league first baseman Alfonso Rivas. … Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that CC Sabathia will take on a front office role as a special adviser to the Yankees. … The Angels acquired right-hander Matt Andriese from the Diamondbacks. They designated Luis Madero for assignment to free up a spot on the 40-man roster. … The White Sox officially announced their one-year, $6 million contract with Steve Cishek -- designating Dylan Covey for assignment in the process. … The Orioles sent Eric Hanhold outright to Triple-A Norfolk. … The Rays inked DJ Snelten, Aaron Slegers, Ryan LaMarre and Chris Herrmann to minor league contracts with invitations to spring training. … The Orioles signed catcher Bryan Holaday to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training.
National League Quick Hits: Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported that the Cardinals and Rockies have begun exchanging names on a possible Nolan Arenado trade, though Jeff Passan of the Brewers signed Jedd Gyorko to a one-year, $2 million contract. … The Nationals officially re-signed Daniel Hudson to a two-year, $11 million contract. … The Cubs signed right-hander Jason Adam to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. … The Reds signed Nate Jones to a minor league contract with a big league camp invite. … The Diamondbacks acquired Jeremy Beasley from the Angels. … The Phillies picked up Nick Martini off of waivers from the Reds. … The Phillies designated Odubel Herrera for assignment. … The Marlins acquired outfielder Diowill Burgos from the Cardinals in exchange for outfielder Austin Dean. … The Giants claimed Jake Jewell off of waivers from the Angels, designating Zach Cozart for assignment in the process. … Nationals’ minor league pitcher Fausto Segura tragically passed away on Sunday after a motorcycle accident.