Former Indians third baseman Josh Donaldson will not be re-signing with the club as he will sign a one-year deal with the Atlanta Braves according to multiple reports.
The deal is worth $23 million for the 2019 season and is pending a physical according to those reports.
The Cleveland Indians acquired Donaldson on the August 31 waiver-trade deadline from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for right-handed reliever Julian Mayweather.
After a short rehab stint in the minors, Donaldson made his debut with the Indians on September 11 against Tampa Bay. He appeared in 16 regular season games for Cleveland down the stretch hitting .280 in 50 at-bats with three home runs, seven runs batted in, a .400 on-base percentage, slugging .520 and an OPS of .920.
In the ALDS against the Houston Astros, Donaldson’s bat went cold much like the majority of the Tribe’s lineup as he only made one hit in eleven at-bats as Cleveland was swept in three games.
The Indians expressed publicly that they’d like to bring Donaldson back but I don’t think they really thought they had a chance considering he was one of the top free agents available and the fact they appear to be trying to shed some salary off their payroll.
They took a chance on him and a chance to go for a World Series championship and were willing to pay the remaining of his $23 million salary last season much like they did in 2017 when they acquired Jay Bruce at the waiver deadline, it just didn’t work out the way they hoped for in both scenarios.
Now he’ll attempt to prove to everyone that he is 100% healthy and can get back to that MVP level he displayed during his tenure in Toronto and if he does, he’ll hit the market again next offseason.
While he’s entering his mid-30s and the fact he dealt with a calf injury that hampered most of his 2018 season, Donaldson is one of the top hitters in baseball and had a five-year stretch from 2013-17 where he hit at least 24 home runs and drove in at least 78 runs in each of those seasons including his 2015 MVP campaign with 41 home runs and 123 runs batted in.
He’ll join an Atlanta Braves team that reached the postseason in 2018 earlier then most expected and a lineup that includes Freddie Freeman and National League Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna, the Braves are an ace starting pitcher away from contending in the National League in 2019.
As for the Indians, they’ll look towards Yandy Diaz as their potential everyday third baseman in 2019 unless the plan is to move Jose Ramirez back to third although that doesn’t look likely as their outfield as of now looks sketchy and could force the club to play Jason Kipnis there at least for the start of the season.