The Twins’ pursuit of Josh Donaldson isn’t over, but the team has grown pessimistic about the outcome.
Donaldson, the Atlanta Braves’ free-agent third baseman and a former American League MVP, is weighing a handful of offers, including one from the Twins that is believed to include an average salary in excess of $20 million over four seasons. But sources with knowledge of the negotiations say Donaldson has not appeared interested in signing with Minnesota, and the team has begun investigating other options.
The Twins are bracing for an announcement about Donaldson’s intentions this week, especially in the wake of a published report on Friday that he wants a four-year contract worth $110 million. The Twins, who have a 26-year-old incumbent third baseman in Miguel Sano, appear unlikely to increase their original offer to a deal that would cover his age 34-37 seasons.
It’s not clear whether the Twins’ original offer remains on the table, and there has been no public indication from Donaldson or his agent, Dan Lozano, that the Twins are no longer under consideration. But the team now expects Donaldson to choose one of his other suitors, one source said, a group that various reports have said includes the Braves, for whom he hit 37 home runs in 2019, Nationals, Dodgers and Rangers.
Minnesota’s pursuit of Donaldson was a reaction to its failure to attract a front-of-the-rotation starting pitcher in free agency; it was an effort instead to improve the team’s subpar infield defense and add even more firepower to an offense that scored a franchise-record 939 runs and hit a major league-record 307 home runs in 2019.
Should Donaldson sign elsewhere — according to a report by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, he “is simply waiting for one of the clubs to hit his number” of $110 million — the Twins’ remaining options in free agency appear extremely limited. The most notable unsigned hitters, Marcel Ozuna, Yasiel Puig and Nick Castellanos, are all outfielders, a position of depth at the major and minor league levels for the Twins. And the now-shallow pool of available starting pitchers makes little sense for the Twins, especially in the wake of their signing of Homer Bailey and Rich Hill last week.
The team’s decision-makers, President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine, have been investigating potential trades for pitching and infielders since the winter meetings last month in San Diego. Donaldson’s decision may have delayed those talks from turning more serious, a restriction that could soon be removed.