As the Josh Donaldson saga slowly marches on, Darren Wolfson of KSTP (perhaps the #1 person Twins fans should be following on Twitter) came out with some news in the past couple days:
Follow-up on Donaldson/#MNTwins: there's been darn near daily dialogue between the sides. He also sees a ton of appeal of facing AL Central pitching vs. NL East. Will $$ talk loudest in the end? Likely. No sense the Twins have a final offer on the table. More on @SKORNorth at 5.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) January 7, 2020
What I said: Twins aren’t the highest bidder.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) January 8, 2020
What I believe: their offer is closer to 80-85 than 100. But, as I’ve stated multiple times and you must’ve missed it: I DON’T HAVE THEIR EXACT OFFER.
Incorrect if you think the Pohlads have killed any idea of going higher. Come on now. You don't really believe if the front office wanted to higher that ownership would say no after approving the current 4-year offer on the table?— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) January 7, 2020
He'd come here. But do I think top choice is Atl.? I do. But to suggest he wouldn't come here is ridiculous. For one, he had a great chat with Rocco. Two, he likes the idea of facing AL Central pitching. Three, he sees the Twins as winners.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) January 8, 2020
- The Twins front office and Donaldson’s camp have been having lots of communication.
- The Twins likely have not made a final offer yet.
- Wolfson does not have exact details, but the sense he has gotten is that the current offer is around 4 years, $80-85 million.
- The Pohlads are not preventing the front office from raising that offer.
- The rhetoric that Donaldson does not like Minnesota as a destination are false.
What to think about this
If you’re not in support of spending lots of money on the former MVP third baseman, everything about this is pretty encouraging for you. The Twins do not have a monster offer on the table, but it’s not because the ownership is cheap. Furthermore, a big-time free agent actually likes Minnesota as a destination, even if it is not his #1 choice.
If you’re like me, and think that the Twins should do whatever it takes to get Donaldson, this is kind of a mixed bag. It is quite encouraging that Donaldson likes Minnesota as a destination. It is definitely valid to not want to face the Washington, Philly, and Mets pitching staffs for a large part of the season (Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, Nola, Wheeler, Syndergaard, Stroman...) (wow what a collection of starting pitching in the NL East). It is also encouraging that there is lots of communication going on between the Twins and Donaldson. Furthermore, I’m happy to hear that the Pohlads are not holding the front office back in their pursuit. However, I am a little discouraged that we are only at $80-85 million, even if it’s not the “final offer”.
Even in his age-33 season last year, Donaldson measured up very favorably in the field against the Twins infielders. In fact, he’d be far and away the best defensive infielder on the roster, and having him at 3rd would cause a ripple that reduced Miguel Sano’s negative effect (by moving him to first), and possibly favorably affecting Jorge Polanco’s defense at short. The injury concerns with him are way overblown, as he’s only missed significant time in two seasons in his career, and in one of those he still played 113 games.
Donaldson would also take the lineup from scary to deadly. Donaldson would have been the 4th-best hitter on the Twins by OPS+ last year, and would have led the team in WAR. You’d essentially be replacing C.J. Cron with someone who hit 12 more dingers, walked 70 more times, and slugged 50 points higher than him last year. You’d be adding a near-Nelson Cruz to the lineup. If you’re disappointed in the efforts to add starting pitching, this move should please you. The game is about run differential, so if instead of having pitchers allowing 2-3 runs, we may be allowing 4-5 runs. However, with this lineup, adding Donaldson on offense and defense should make up the difference.
So here’s what I think: the front office should throw caution to the wind for a second, and slap down an extra $20 million to get this deal done. The fact that we’re still in the running, even though our offer is that low, is actually pretty encouraging. However, moral victories in the off-season make for real losses in the season, and we should take advantage of our position and do what it takes to sign the man.
You shouldn’t complain about the Pohlads being cheap, but if you do, you can’t complain about giving Donaldson (or Joe Mauer, in that case) “too much money”. Those are two contradicting positions.