Hot Stove: Rangers Interest in Josh Donaldson is Heating Up
Jon Daniels is currently in Scottsdale, Arizona for the General Manager Meetings, a prelude to the Winter Meetings in December. As the first dominos of free agency start to fall, it has become clear that Texas is very interested in veteran third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Donaldson is coming off a season where he slashed .259/.379/.521 and hit 37 home runs with 94 RBI's for the Atlanta Braves. He also had a 6.1 WAR, which was 6th in the National League. The 2015 American League MVP turns 34 this December.
While Donaldson will be a high commodity this offseason, the third basemen class is led by Anthony Rendon, who just helped the Washington Nationals win their first World Series. The Rangers will surely kick the tires on Rendon as well.
So, why make Donaldson such a high priority? Rendon clearly is the better player and is younger than Donaldson.
First, Rendon might demand too much money or too many years in a contract. Rendon is only 29 years old, so he may demand a contract in excess of five years, which the Rangers are more than likely not comfortable with offering.
Second, the Rangers' top prospect is 2019 first round pick Josh Jung out of Texas Tech. Jung is highly-regarded for his bat and fielding versatility. The Rangers may feel Jung is the third baseman of the future. If so, they don't want to have loads of money tied up in an aging Rendon when Jung is ready to take over.
It's still too early to know if Josh Jung is the real deal or not. He's barely had any experience in the professional ranks. The Rangers will more than likely have a much better understanding of where Jung is in his development will be by the end of 2020.
More than likely, the Rangers could land Donaldson with a short-term deal, preferably no more than two or three years. If Donaldson could maintain his 2019 performance, the Rangers could find the perfect stopgap in Donaldson until Jung is ready to take over. With Shin-Soo Choo on the last year of his contract, Donaldson could find a way to extend his career as a full-time DH if and when Jung is ready for the show.
Of course, bringing up Donaldson's name reminds Texas faithful of the playoff bouts with the Blue Jays in 2015 and 2016. Donaldson was in the middle of multiple altercations with the Rangers in those series.
Rangers fans may or may not feel fondly of Donaldson, but it's amazing how the change of a jersey can change the perspective of a player. If Donaldson is brought to Arlington, he will be welcomed with open arms by his teammates. In turn, fans would welcome him as well. After all, his presence on the hot corner automatically makes the team better.
If the Rangers landed Donaldson over Rendon, it could also free them to spend more money on pitching, which is a very costly endeavor. The Rangers need to fill multiple spots in the starting rotation, and also address other positions like catcher, first base, or center field. They must be cognizant of where their money is allocated.
Donaldson would be a fine addition to the Rangers. He would bring personality and skill both at the plate and in the field. He would also fill he largest need on the roster.
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