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Front Page: With Twins Likely Out on Donaldson, So What's the Plan Now?


I would really like to see the Twins up their offer to 4/95 or 4/100.  It's not that much more than their current 4/85 anyway.  I think he is worth 23 or 24 M per year for at least the first two years.  It looks like they are going to rely on the farm to supply the arms anyway so they should have the payroll room.  If they lose out with that type of offer then fine but would like to see them stretch a little bit for the team and the fans.

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-The Twins supposed offer sounds like it’s much higher than original projections for a Donaldson this off season but Donaldson’s camp is valuing him about 80% higher than those projections.

FWIW, MLBTR estimated 3/75 for Donaldson, and the Fangraphs writer McDaniel estimated 3/71. If he's asking for 4/110, that's a ~50% increase in total value over those, although only a ~13% increase in AAV due to the extra year. (And of course, he might only be asking for 4/110 hoping that someone counters with 4/100, rather than 110 being his actual valuation of himself.)

 

I guess the Fangraphs crowdsource was 3/60 but those generally seem lower / more unreliable than the "expert" predictions so far this winter.

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Just sign Donaldson. Even if he only totals 13.5 WAR over 4 years it's a good value. He'll have 10 WAR in the first two years feasting on AL central pitching, then worst case scenario he plays some third and still is worth 2 WAR as a DH in year three and four. There you go. 

 

You also improve the infield defense for 2020 and 2021 and probably have the best lineup in MLB in 2020. Do it. The guy has been a 5 WAR player 6 of the last 7 years and would have been the best player on the Twins last year. 

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Just sign Donaldson. Even if he only totals 13.5 WAR over 4 years it's a good value. He'll have 10 WAR in the first two years feasting on AL central pitching, then worst case scenario he plays some third and still is worth 2 WAR as a DH in year three and four. There you go. 

 

You also improve the infield defense for 2020 and 2021 and probably have the best lineup in MLB in 2020. Do it. The guy has been a 5 WAR player 6 of the last 7 years and would have been the best player on the Twins last year. 

 

Totally agree that he gives the Twins a monster lineup.  1 - 9 there would be no place to hide for a pitcher.  His defense might be an even bigger boost than his offense.  He would really help the team for the next two years maybe more if he ages well.  if 3/75 was the prediction starting out adding a year makes it 4/100.  I know it feels a year to long to get true value but it looks like that is what it will take to give us something special for the next two years.

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Tossing out my own observations based on everything reported.

 

1] Donaldson made $23M last year. The Twins offer is for more than $20M per. Pretty easy to assume that means $88-92M.

 

2] Safe to assume Atlanta...who has their own budget and value numbers to consider, just like the Twins and everyone else...have a lower offer on the table or this deal would be done.

 

If not, you would think Donaldson and his reps would make their own counter offer to finalize a deal if the numbers are close since Atlanta is supposedly his favorite landing spot.

 

3] Washington may have indeed made the largest offer, but it's also speculated their offer includes deferred $, as they have done previously, thus making their total offer no more, and possibly less than the Twins when all future value is addressed.

 

While I don't feel strongly Donaldson is coming, I think it is more than fair to believe the Twins are "in it" still and have a very good offer on the table.

 

4] I think losing out when a $2-3M per year bump could just get this over and done and get his name on the dotted line would be a shame not to happen. I understand budgets and projections and values, but at this point, a couple $M per year over 4 just shouldn't stop the Twins if they and Donaldson are serious.

 

5] However, I do think saying "the hell with it, here's a bump all the way up to $110M" starts to cross a line from overpaying for what you want and takes "stupid money" to the "ridiculous money" aspect. At some point there is a line in the sand that you just decide it doesn't make enough sense to cross.

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Nobody knows what the minimum Twins bid would have been to land JD...or what was/is going on inside JD's head. Not me, not you, not Doogie.

 

What is clear...the FO has failed this off-season (so far). They've failed by their own stated expectation, and also by any objective measure. They've come off a season where they won the AL by 8 games, then got reminded that postseason teams are seriously good. They had chances to get significantly better, and they didn't. So, failure. Doesn't mater how/why. At least to me it doesn't.

 

To me what's next it what Twins fans should be accustomed to....hope...albeit hope from a funner vantage point. The club should be able to win a bunch of games and compete in the central. But, for realistic postseason expectations...it seems we're left hoping still. Hoping for another level from the core, an immediate upside surprise from a prospect or two, and Berrios making that leap to a shut-down stud.

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Please explain.

 

Donaldson, 2015: 158 games, .939 OPS

2016: 155 games, .953 OPS

2017: 113 games, .944 OPS

2018: 52 games, .801 OPS

2019: 155 games. .900 OPS

 

He got hurt, and it tanked 2018. It happened, sure, but he's been an extremely durable player outside of that. There's zero reason--based on his history--to think you'd get only 2 of 4 productive seasons, "if that." 

 

Also, let us know what "impactful" move you'd rather they make with that $110. Take on David Price's contract, which Boston will give you for nothing in return?

What do you mean explain?

 

Durability is a finite thing when it comes to athletes.  He is a 34 year old third baseman who has had made the qualifying number of plate appearances once in the last four seasons.  He had four seasons in a row with the qualifying number of plate appearances before last year.  Those were ages 27 to 30 .  Do you expect this to just start happening again because it's happened before?  Tell you what....I wouldn't wager on that happening more than once again.  Batteries last only so long, candles last only so long, cars and machinery last only so long ….and so do baseball players.  Most don't even make it to 34.  Just about anything that does work depreciates and wears out. 

 

This isn't a AA government bond we are talking about, Chief.  He is a 34 year old baseball player.  

 

This isn't rocket science.

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Given that he hasn't signed, I doubt either team is offering close to the $100MM he's asking for. I have no idea what will happen here.....

My guess is the Twins have offered 4/$85, the Nats have offered close to $100 million but a huge chunk of it is deferred and the Braves have the lowest offer. The Twins can probably get this done for 4/$95 or 4/$100. So why not do it? The extra $2-3 million year is nothing.

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Respectfully, I suppose I just disagree with the notion that a 4 year, 100M contract to Josh Donaldson is as big of a financial risk as you make it out to be.
The Twins have about 25M committed to the 2021 payroll right now, and even less going forward.
It's one thing to "run a stable business", as you put it. Its another to make claims of aggressive pursuit of top tier free agents and extensions in order to increase a potential World Series run and then scoff at every single opportunity to do so.

Josh Donaldson is a hell of a baseball player. One of the better 3B in the league, both offensively and defensively. He would be out of his mind not to consider coming to the Twins, sit in the middle of this lineup and feast on the AL Central pitching staffs. The *only* reason he won't is because the Twins won't pay him his market rate.

 

Don't get me wrong guys I would love to have him but understanding the rate vs return is a big deal. 100 mil isn't getting it done... he has pretty much said so. His agent has said it will take 110 at least meaning to the Twins more likely 120.... or 30 mil per season for an aging 3B. I am good if we get him of course but "market rate" is not always a smart move. 30 million for him is not something I would do.

 

Others may... I would not. 

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What do you mean explain?

 

Durability is a finite thing when it comes to athletes. He is a 34 year old third baseman who has had made the qualifying number of plate appearances once in the last four seasons. He had four seasons in a row with the qualifying number of plate appearances before last year. Those were ages 27 to 30 . Do you expect this to just start happening again because it's happened before? Tell you what....I wouldn't wager on that happening more than once again. Batteries last only so long, candles last only so long, cars and machinery last only so long ….and so do baseball players. Most don't even make it to 34. Just about anything that does work depreciates and wears out.

 

This isn't a AA government bond we are talking about, Chief. He is a 34 year old baseball player.

 

This isn't rocket science.

Not rocket science, but let's get our facts straight.

 

He's made the "qualifying number of plate appearances" 2 of the last 4 years, not 1... 2016 and 2019 (700 and 659, respectively.)

 

He missed by less than 10 PA in 2017 (496 PAs).

 

He's 34, a 4 year contract takes him through his age 37 season. DH is open after this season. There are mild concerns about age, but plenty of players play well into their mid 30s, particularly those with power and plate discipline. And Donaldson has a history of strong durability.

 

You're vastly overstating age concerns.

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And Donaldson has a history of strong durability.

You're vastly overstating age concerns.

"Strong history of durability" amounts to five seasons of getting the qualifying plate appearances and one of the last three to be exact. He has done that once since he turned 30.  He's not the same guy at 34 that he was 27 to 30.  I am about facts as well, Chief.

Last year there were 17 position players who reached 400 PAs at the age 34 and over.  Just  of them had a WAR over 2.0.  Nelson Cruz led the way and he is a rare exception. 

https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=400&type=8&season=2019&month=0&season1=2019&ind=0&team=&rost=&age=34,58&filter=&players=&startdate=&enddate=

 

Joey Votto has power and plate discipline and his numbers dove at age 34:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/v/vottojo01.shtml

Robinson Cano had durability that makes Donaldson's durability barely noteworthy.  He fell off and so did his durability right around 34/35 years old:

 https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/canoro01.shtml

Same thing with Miguel Cabrera:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cabremi01.shtml

Same thing with Albert Pujols:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/pujolal01.shtml

 

I am  not "vastly overstating" concerns about age.  What I am saying I would bet against him having even 75% of the durability he was able to boast during his prime years. This is based of tons and tons of historical data over decades. 

 

.

 

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"Strong history of durability" amounts to five seasons of getting the qualifying plate appearances and one of the last three to be exact. He has done that once since he turned 30. He's not the same guy at 34 that he was 27 to 30. I am about facts as well, Chief.

Last year there were 17 position players who reached 400 PAs at the age 34 and over. Just of them had a WAR over 2.0. Nelson Cruz led the way and he is a rare exception.

https://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=400&type=8&season=2019&month=0&season1=2019&ind=0&team=&rost=&age=34,58&filter=&players=&startdate=&enddate=

 

Joey Votto has power and plate discipline and his numbers dove at age 34:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/v/vottojo01.shtml

Robinson Cano had durability that makes Donaldson's durability barely noteworthy. He fell off and so did his durability right around 34/35 years old:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/canoro01.shtml

Same thing with Miguel Cabrera:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cabremi01.shtml

Same thing with Albert Pujols:

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/pujolal01.shtml

 

I am not "vastly overstating" concerns about age. What I am saying I would bet against him having even 75% of the durability he was able to boast during his prime years. This is based of tons and tons of historical data over decades.

 

.

I don’t think I there would be a ton of support to get him in here if the front office hadn’t completely bombed the offseason so far. I understand what you are getting at. Most likely we get 2 seasons of good play out of him and 2 seasons where he is maybe a bench bat or starter 2/3 of the season.

 

What most I think are banking on is him being very good this season yet and and pretty darn good yet next year.

 

I’ve already said I’m so so on this move either way. But I think if it is between this and nothing at all, I’ll take this rather than let them put the rest of the money in their pockets or use it to sign more guys from the garbage heap.

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Dan Hayes of the Athletic is reporting that the Twins, in addition to courting Donaldson, are also working the phones to see if they can make any trades happen. This is apparently in part because they thought he’d sign before Christmas and don’t want to be caught with their pants down waiting into February for him to make a decision.

 

From the article:

 

“ One club source said Wednesday that the team has seen an uptick in trade dialogue the past three days after that market was much slower in December. Similar to free agency, where they have courted both Donaldson and several top starting pitchers this winter, the Twins haven’t limited themselves to any one position in trade talks and instead continue to seek a player who would upgrade their 26-man roster. Even though the Twins recently signed free agents Homer Bailey and Rich Hill, the source said the club is still open to adding starting pitching.”

 

Please don’t direct your sarcasm toward me, as I am just the messenger.

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Why would you assume that when Wolfson reported $80-85M?

It's been reported the offer is over $20M per. He made $23M last year. Basic logic would tell me they are offering $21.5/$22/maybe $23 per. Simple math puts them in that $88ish category. I could be off, but not more than about $2M tops.

 

I'd say again, a couple $M more per year is nothing when all us considered, if it gets the job done. I just don't think I'd go beyond $100 no matter his hoped for demands. And unlike Washington, the money wouldn't be deferred, which actually increases the value somewhat.

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I don’t think I there would be a ton of support to get him in here if the front office hadn’t completely bombed the offseason so far. I understand what you are getting at. Most likely we get 2 seasons of good play out of him and 2 seasons where he is maybe a bench bat or starter 2/3 of the season.

 

What most I think are banking on is him being very good this season yet and and pretty darn good yet next year.

 

I’ve already said I’m so so on this move either way. But I think if it is between this and nothing at all, I’ll take this rather than let them put the rest of the money in their pockets or use it to sign more guys from the garbage heap.

I respect what you are saying, but I’m highly skeptical about what he can bring anymore and I’ve always liked the guy. Heck I was half hoping he’d put Perkins in his place back in his Oakland days when Perk popped off on him.

 

Then again, I’ve watched baseball since 1972. We just don’t see many players do very well into their mid-30s. I’m not saying he’s going to suck, but it’s really hard to swallow this “price point” of his on principle. Two good years maybe for 9 figures?

 

I think I’ll pass

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I don’t think I there would be a ton of support to get him in here if the front office hadn’t completely bombed the offseason so far. I understand what you are getting at. Most likely we get 2 seasons of good play out of him and 2 seasons where he is maybe a bench bat or starter 2/3 of the season.

 

What most I think are banking on is him being very good this season yet and and pretty darn good yet next year.

 

I’ve already said I’m so so on this move either way. But I think if it is between this and nothing at all, I’ll take this rather than let them put the rest of the money in their pockets or use it to sign more guys from the garbage heap.

Fully appreciate your perspective but am going to disagree with you.

 

It was reported fairly early the Twins were considering making a move at 3B and moving Sano over, though nobody was named as a target directly. I was surprised by this as I felt they were sticking with Sano at 3B for the next couple of seasons, but I understood the thought process.

 

Wheeler and Bumgarner were their initial 2 targets. For various reasons that don't need to be rehashed again, that absolutely didn't turn out. Plan B then became, "what do we do next?"

 

Frankly, I was a little surprised they didn't look at Moose sooner, but it may have been bad timing.

 

I despise the whole "with health" comment as it always applies to everyone. But "with health" of a decent nature, ie normal bumps-bruises-tweaks-strains, I see Donaldson performing at normal career levels for 2 years. I would project normal slippage his 3rd year but still productive and closer to ML norm numbers. I would expect the 4th year to be average, give or take some.

 

Could there be a major drop off all of a sudden? Yes. But I agree with the premise that power and plate discipline do allow a majority of players to age more gracefully than others. And with being in the AL, a transition to 1B or DH can help prolong health, production and longevity. We talk about Sano moving to DH eventually, and that could be the case. But Donaldson could slide there first to replace Cruz.

 

It's all hypothetical to some degree, but so is every season for every player, to some degree. Missing out on the first 2 important targets hurts. It could very well be the FO miscalculated availability and interest as well as a sudden rise in cost, as I have suggested elsewhere. Or it could be, behind closed doors, they knew both were a tough sell but they were going to at least try.

 

But I don't believe Donaldson is some Hail Mary attempt to salvage the offseason. 3B was seen as an opportunity, even if it was priority 2B. There is never anything wrong with improving your ballclub, including further strengthening an already existent strength.

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"I think I’ll pass" - ewen21

 

Why?

The team has the money. The other players won't be jealous. There isn't much committed for next year. Adding JD doesn't prevent the Twins from making trades. It may even help open some trade possibilities. Donaldson would most certainly make the Twins better. 

I never had JD on my radar until there wasn't any other free agents left. But he is available and nobody else is right now.

Why not JD when the money makes no difference at all?

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We just don’t see many players do very well into their mid-30s.

But players who have already done well through age 33, like Donaldson has, tend to do pretty well at ages 34-37 too.

 

I've linked this before, and it's good reading on the subject:

 

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/what-to-expect-from-josh-donaldson/

 

To summarize, Donaldson's historical position/performance comps at age 33 and ages 30-33 had the following average performances from age 34-37:

 

34: 3.4 WAR

35: 2.9

36: 2.1 (but 3.0 median)

37: 2.4

 

There's still risk in this or any contract, of course. But "mid-30s age risk" is actually a lot greater for the guys *younger* than Donaldson, whose mid-30's are still a few years away and whose performance might fall off significantly before they even get to age 34. For example, Longoria's bat started fading by age 31, etc.

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Fully appreciate your perspective but am going to disagree with you.

It was reported fairly early the Twins were considering making a move at 3B and moving Sano over, though nobody was named as a target directly. I was surprised by this as I felt they were sticking with Sano at 3B for the next couple of seasons, but I understood the thought process.

Wheeler and Bumgarner were their initial 2 targets. For various reasons that don't need to be rehashed again, that absolutely didn't turn out. Plan B then became, "what do we do next?"

Frankly, I was a little surprised they didn't look at Moose sooner, but it may have been bad timing.

I despise the whole "with health" comment as it always applies to everyone. But "with health" of a decent nature, ie normal bumps-bruises-tweaks-strains, I see Donaldson performing at normal career levels for 2 years. I would project normal slippage his 3rd year but still productive and closer to ML norm numbers. I would expect the 4th year to be average, give or take some.

Could there be a major drop off all of a sudden? Yes. But I agree with the premise that power and plate discipline do allow a majority of players to age more gracefully than others. And with being in the AL, a transition to 1B or DH can help prolong health, production and longevity. We talk about Sano moving to DH eventually, and that could be the case. But Donaldson could slide there first to replace Cruz.

It's all hypothetical to some degree, but so is every season for every player, to some degree. Missing out on the first 2 important targets hurts. It could very well be the FO miscalculated availability and interest as well as a sudden rise in cost, as I have suggested elsewhere. Or it could be, behind closed doors, they knew both were a tough sell but they were going to at least try.

But I don't believe Donaldson is some Hail Mary attempt to salvage the offseason. 3B was seen as an opportunity, even if it was priority 2B. There is never anything wrong with improving your ballclub, including further strengthening an already existent strength.

 

Sure, I can agree with where you are coming from. 

 

My comment was mainly pertaining to how fans are perceiving this or why there is such a clamor to bring Donaldson in. I think if they had inked one of those 2-3 pitchers, there wouldn't be the pessimism and the calls by everyone to bring him in almost no matter what would be much more reserved. 

 

I agree with you that players that have plate discipline most notably, can age much better than someone who doesn't. As long as they are able to swing at good pitches and take walks when they are presented, they will give you a chance. 

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We missed out on one pitcher because he likes horses and another because his girlfriend and dog prefer being out east. Sign JD and trade for a starting pitcher and we have completed the best offseason   in   team history.

 

Early on, only Atlanta    and our favorite team signed 2 players in MLBTR's top 20 free agents. We were the only one to sign 2 starting pitchers. Impact starting pitcher Odorizi and impact starting pitcher Pineda. At no time did our FO say impact pitching would be restricted to those unfamiliar with where the restrooms were located at Target Field.

 

Also, MLB.com in their first power rankings of the year showed us 4th.

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Please explain.

 

Donaldson, 2015: 158 games, .939 OPS

2016: 155 games, .953 OPS

2017: 113 games, .944 OPS

2018: 52 games, .801 OPS

2019: 155 games. .900 OPS

 

He got hurt, and it tanked 2018. It happened, sure, but he's been an extremely durable player outside of that. There's zero reason--based on his history--to think you'd get only 2 of 4 productive seasons, "if that." 

 

Also, let us know what "impactful" move you'd rather they make with that $110. Take on David Price's contract, which Boston will give you for nothing in return?

I'm just saying that of the last four seasons, Donaldson only  played a full season 2 of the four; using that, along with advancing age, we can use the same to project going forward.

 

I did not mention Price, though you said I did.
 

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I like the idea of the Twins building form within (this is their DNA), making good strategic moves but not signing big over-the-top contracts overpaying at peak value for guys like Donaldson that are unlikely to perform at the current level through the duration of the contract.

 

Twins didn't have Donaldson last year; they won over 100 games and finished in first place.  The reason they lost in postseason is their lack of shutdown pitching, not their lack of Donaldson.

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I like the idea of the Twins building form within (this is their DNA), making good strategic moves but not signing big over-the-top contracts overpaying at peak value for guys like Donaldson that are unlikely to perform at the current level through the duration of the contract.

 

Twins didn't have Donaldson last year; they won over 100 games and finished in first place. The reason they lost in postseason is their lack of shutdown pitching, not their lack of Donaldson.

They lost in the postseason for a number of reasons.

One of them being their complete lack of offense- 7 runs in 3 games, including 3 runs total in games 2 and 3.

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