Donaldson ready to bring the rain to Minnesota
The Minnesota Twins made a huge acquisition on Jan. 15 by signing 3B Josh Donaldson. The contract is for four years and $92 million in guaranteed money. It also includes a fifth-year option of $16 million, or the option of a buyout for $8 million. By the time that fifth-year rolls around, Donaldson will be 38 years old.
A Career of Bombas
Donaldson made his mark on the league playing for the Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays early in his career. He was traded to Toronto in 2015 and had a career year. He led the American League in runs (122), RBIs (123) and total bases (352) while taking home the AL MVP award. Between 2015 and 2017, Donaldson sent 111 homers into the stands. He had remained healthy for most of his career until the 2018 season. Playing for Toronto and Cleveland, he only played 52 games due to calf and shoulder injuries. Donaldson joined the Braves last year and had a strong rebound season. He finished with 37 HR in 155 games and finished 11th in MVP voting.
The three-time all-star was one of the most coveted free agents this offseason. By mid-December, only four teams remained in contention: the Twins, Dodgers, Braves and Nationals. To the surprise of many, Donaldson eventually chose Minnesota. In a press conference, he cited his reasons for his decision. The Twins play in the AL Central, which will likely be one of the weakest divisions in the majors this season. Furthermore, the other contenders for Donaldson play in the National League. Being in the American League gives the Twins more roster flexibility with a DH spot in all home games and many away games. Donaldson, who is 34 years old, might be our designated hitter a few times this year.
He also cited Target Field as one of his reasons for coming here. “The Bringer of Rain” played his first All-Star Game in Target Field. During regular-season games, his batting average is .395 and his slugging percentage is .852 at Target Field.
The Twins went after Donaldson to improve both on offense and defense. Miguel Sanó is the weakest point in Minnesota’s defense. Now that Donaldson is here, Sanó will fill the void at first base left by C.J. Cron’s exit. Sanó’s fielding percentage at third base last season was just 92.6 percent compared to 95.6 percent at first base. Donaldson’s 96.9 percent fielding percentage at third should help to stabilize the Twins’ defense.
The major need for the Twins roster this offseason was at pitcher. Minnesota hasn’t invested in long-term pitching as much as they should have. They signed starter Homer Bailey to a one-year deal worth seven million. He’s 33 years old and his ERA has only been under the league average three times during his 13-year career.
Minnesota also signed starter Rich Hill to a one-year deal worth $3 million. Hill, who turns 40 in March, is the oldest active starter in the MLB. He has been solid over the last three years, posting an ERA of 3.30 and a record of 27-14 in that time. The problem is that he was diagnosed with a flexor tendon strain in June, which means he could need Tommy John surgery if it gets worse. He won’t play a game for Minnesota until this summer, and if his injury gets worse he will likely call it quits. Why give the oldest starter in the majors a contract if he won’t pitch until June at the earliest? Your guess is as good as mine. In my opinion, Minnesota is a few good pitchers away from getting to the World Series. Improved pitching or not, the Twins will at the very least be a fun team to watch again in 2020.