Market activity: Josh Donaldson signs as hot stove heats up(Keith Allison / Flickr)

Market activity: Josh Donaldson signs as hot stove heats up

Plus: Ian Clarkin is back, Minnesota tries another DH, and Lonnie Chisenhall heads to the NL

You wanted action? You got it.

Josh Donaldson is off the board, and he went to a team that didn’t seem to need his services.

Donaldson, who was the solution at third base for more than a dozen of the lineups in our Offseason Plan Project, ended up going to the Atlanta Braves for a one-year, $23 million contract.

(In the process, Atlanta also buried the return of Brian McCann for $2 million. He replaces Kurt Suzuki, who went to Washington.)

It’s a fascinating move on multiple levels, first and foremost because the Braves didn’t appear to have room at the infield. They got fine production this past season from Johan Camargo, a 24-year-old who posted a 116 OPS+ with well-regarded defense. Now Camargo might be a utility infielder. Or maybe he’ll move to shortstop and force Dansby Swanson out of a starting job.

There’s also no DH spot to shuttle Donaldson to if his shoulder causes the same defensive issues he had last season. His strong finish with the Indians — .280/.400/.520 with three homers over 16 games — suggests a rebound is imminent, and he’s really betting on himself with a one-year deal considering Nolan Arenado and Anthony Rendon hit free agency after the 2019 season. He didn’t have a qualifying offer weighing him down this year, either.

Outside of the lack of a pressing need, the Braves make sense for Donaldson in the usual categories — average annual value, contending status, and even geography (he was born in Alabama and attended Auburn). But with Donaldson off the board, Manny Machado might become even more important to teams looking for an upgrade at third base.

* * *  * * *  * * *

One of those teams is the Phillies, but if Jon Morosi’s source is any indication, they may not be in the mood to wait around for him.

For weeks, the baseball industry has identified the Phillies as a probable destination for Bryce Harper, Manny Machado or both.

But what if Philadelphia spends aggressively this offseason … yet lands neither?

That scenario is very much in play, sources say.

The Phillies aren’t waiting on decisions from Harper and Machado as the team ambitiously pursues upgrades to its roster, people in the industry told MLB.com Monday. In fact, the sources said it’s possible the Phils will sign multiple free agents before Harper or Machado agree to terms.

It’s good to have the Phillies back in the running for free agents. They’ve been one of the main market drivers in their best years, and owner John Middleton said they could be “a little stupid” about how much money they spend this winter.

My guess is that this story is merely an attempt to prod the camps for Machado and Harper to get serious about offers.

* * *  * * *  * * *

For a third party, MLB Trade Rumors’ Rob Huff did a decent job at examining the financial commitments for the White Sox in an attempt to project the payroll. He was a little off about both Zack Collins and Carson Fulmer, but the ultimate number he comes to — $100 million, or $41 million of room — is within the conservative ballpark, considering I set the initial Offseason Plan Project payroll at $105 million.

* * *  * * *  * * *

The White Sox were unable to successfully sneak Ian Clarkin through waivers, as he got claimed by the Cubs.

The Cubs then were unable to successfully sneak Clarkin through waivers, as he got claimed by the White Sox. The White Sox’ 40-man roster is now at 39.

The first club to successfully outright Clarkin wins the Crosstown Cup.

* * *  * * *  * * *

Although the Logan Morrison signing didn’t work out, the Twins are taking a shot with another slugger the Tampa Bay Rays let go.

Minnesota claimed C.J. Cron off waivers after the Rays designated him for assignment. Cron had a good season for the price — 30 homers, a 123 OPS+, and he’s projected to make $5.2 million in arbitration in 2019. Nevertheless, the Rays followed the Corey Dickerson playbook by letting their DH go for nothing, and the Twins are hoping Cron can continue delivering the way Dickerson helped the Pirates in 2018.

* * *  * * *  * * *

Speaking of the Pirates, they’re pursuing another bargain corner outfielder by signing Lonnie Chisenhall away from Cleveland for one year and $2.75 million.

The price seems low, but Chisenhall has limitations. He doesn’t face lefties and he’s played only 111 games over the last two years due to problems with his calves. When healthy, though, he hit .297/.368/.503 mostly against righties with playable corner outfield defense.

One problem with a Chisenhall type is that he requires a complimentary player at one position to get an above-average outcome, and those get harder to happen upon as benches get shorter. That said, it doesn’t bode well for Avisail Garcia’s market, because there’s a lot of room between Chisenhall’s price tag and Garcia’s $8 million arbitration projection.

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roke1960
Member

I would think that the White Sox, like the Phillies, cannot afford to wait for Machado or Harper to sign. If the next tier of free agents start signing, it puts a team in jeopardy of getting nothing if they wait for Machado/Harper, then lose out on them. I would like to see the Sox sign one of the next tier (Corbin, Pollock, Grandal, Keuchel, Eovaldi), while leaving enough room to add one of the 2 big guys.

Eagle Bones
Member

While I agree that I dont think the sox should sit around and wait for these guys, they’re quite a bit further from contention than philly. The downside to them waiting is not what it is for philly.

GrinnellSteve
Member

We shouldn’t sleep on the Twins. The notion that the somewhat retrenching Indians are the only impediment to Machado and the Sox winning the division is shortsighted. The Twins still have a lot of young talent that’s as likely to gel as the Sox’ youngsters.

That’s my cautionary note for the day. I’m glad to see some movement in the Hot Stove League.

roke1960
Member

I agree. The key to the Twins is still Buxton and Sano. They need to break out for the Twins to be significantly better. I kind of like seeing them pick up Cron. It looks like they may be trying to fill spots cheaply, like they did last year. They have the money to spend big- hopefully they don’t. They certainly could be contenders if they spend big (and Sano/Buxton rebound).

Trooper Galactus
Member

I actually thought they were going to move Sano to first, so I was a bit surprised by the Cron pickup.

35Shields
Member
35Shields

It’s particularly shortsighted because the main impediment to Machado and Sox winning the division is actually the White Sox roster.

roke1960
Member

I don’t think the one year rentals (Bumgarner, Goldschmidt, etc.) make sense for the Sox, since they would have to give up something for someone who may not play on a contender this year, but would a guy like Greinke make sense? He would certainly provide a veteran ace for the next 3 years, and they probably wouldn’t have to gave up a lot if they took on most of his contract.

moncada5ever
Member

It could make some sense, I’d like the DBacks to eat at least 10M/per so that contract becomes more reasonable.

roke1960
Member

I agree. Getting him for 3/$75 million seems reasonable.

35Shields
Member
35Shields

At that point, why not just sign free agents? Eovaldi’s projected for nearly the same production (3 WAR vs 3.3 WAR), is five years younger and will probably cost loss (~3/$45).

Keuchel’s projected for 3.2 WAR, is three years younger and will probably have roughly the same total cost, but an extra year (~4/$82m).

For Eovaldi, you don’t have to give up any players and for Keuchel you only give up ~#40 pick in the draft.

roke1960
Member

I would much rather sign free agents, but they need a backup plan if those free agents don’t choose to play for the Sox.

knoxfire30
Member
knoxfire30

I dont want any part of any plan that loses us prospects in exchange for 1 year rentals and the hope they re-sign. Plenty of longer term trade options being made available especially in the starting pitching market if the sox decide thats what they want to add

Right Size Wrong Shape
Member
Right Size Wrong Shape

I think Roke was referring to Greinke.

knoxfire30
Member
knoxfire30

He was. I poorly relayed that I agree with the initial part about not going after bum or pg,

Still pretty hesitant to trade for anyone especially someone like Greinke with so many free agent options available and better/cheaper/younger trade options out there as well.

With the Donaldson signing (granted I know its one year) but would the braves make Austin Riley available? Would a Dunning, Hansen, Basabe type prospect exchange work? Ive been advocating for a long time that the sox need to take some of their prospect depth and turn it into a more premium prospect at position of need.

striker
Member

If we could get AZ to eat half of Greinke’s salary, then it would only cost us a a lower level prospect, like Tatis Jr., in the trade.

knoxfire30
Member
knoxfire30

Its early to predict how this market turns out but with the small sample of donaldson , suzuki, chisenhaul, it may be another long winter of tricklying movement and falling price tags. Basically that tells me Grienke would be barely able to get 3 years 65 mil… so to trade for him I wouldnt be willing to give up anyone with remote prospect status until they chip in enough to get to that number.

roke1960
Member

Yeah, Greinke would basically be a salary dump for AZ. I wouldn’t give up anything of real value to get him.

Trooper Galactus
Member

STAHP

35Shields
Member
35Shields

I don’t think signing Donaldson would change their calculus with Riley much. Donaldson’s only there for one year.

If anything, it might mean that they’re less likely to deal him because they apparently lack enough confidence in Camargo as a 3B that they spent $20+m to get someone else.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Maybe the only reason Hahn got Clarkin back from the Cubs was to trade him for Greinke.

Willardmarshall
Member
Willardmarshall

I still don’t understand — did the Cubs just not anticipate that the White Sox would reclaim Clarkin?

35Shields
Member
35Shields

I guess they were hoping that the Sox would be busy during the holiday?

Right Size Wrong Shape
Member
Right Size Wrong Shape

It was worth a shot. They liked him, just not enough to add him to their roster.

Trooper Galactus
Member

I hadn’t considered the QO thing with Donaldson. Has a player’s contract ever specified he cannot be given a QO at the end off it? Might be the next contract sweetener for some free agents.

Patrick Nolan
Editor

I think this has happened before. I can’t remember whose contract it was.

Trooper Galactus
Member

Does anybody else find it pathetic that the Twins have spent more in a season than the White Sox now, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts? If Renisdorf doesn’t authorize payrolls well in excess of $150 million this is an exercise in futility.

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/11/twins-payroll-2019.html

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/11/white-sox-payroll-2019.html

roke1960
Member

I think he needs to raise it to about $115-125 million this year, then higher next year. Even a $115 million payroll would allow them to spend about $60 million this winter. That could get us Harper or Machado and at least one more big time free agent, plus a couple more middle tier guys. By 2021, he should be to $150 million.

Trooper Galactus
Member

They could sign both Harper AND Machado and still only just be around the club payroll record. It’s not just that they failed to build a team around Sale/Q/Eaton/Abreu, they totally failed to spend like a team that was in its self-stated “window”.

ParisSox
Member

Maybe they should pump it to 200 million now.  

MLB Announces Gaming Partnership With MGM

https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/11/mlb-announces-gaming-partnership-with-mgm.html

On the surface I don’t like the sound of this at all.  But I’m willing to listen to arguments from both sides before I put my stake in the ground.