Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account

Let's look back at the Donaldson signing. Was it worth it?


Community Leader

January 14th, 2020. What a day that was. The previous day we were all saddened by the Twins lack of activity in the FA market. They were in on Donaldson for while, but they were out on Donaldson by that point.

Until they signed him.

Since then, we all have had our opinions on this signing, and those opinions have changed (some drastically) over time.

Was the Donaldson signing worth it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

On 5/26/2022 at 1:42 PM, alexthegreat said:

January 14th, 2020. What a day that was. The previous day we were all saddened by the Twins lack of activity in the FA market. They were in on Donaldson for while, but they were out on Donaldson by that point.

Until they signed him.

Since then, we all have had our opinions on this signing, and those opinions have changed (some drastically) over time.

Was the Donaldson signing worth it?

Yes, it showed a rare commitment to winning. 2020 was abbreviated and 2021 a disaster from the pitching staff but Donaldson gave it his all and was productive when on the field, which unfortunately was less than we hoped.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Donaldson was injured some of the time but quite good when playing - it was a very solid signing; one of the best moves by Falvine. JD became a lightning rod like others who actually draw large salaries and has had his share of negative press recently. I think the best time to discuss a move is within a month of the action. We can get too carried away with ideas like "it was obvious ...." after the fact. Finally, does anyone really believe that the Yankees would trade for someone who was all finished as a player?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Verified Member
On 5/26/2022 at 2:12 PM, rwilfong86 said:

One of the worst free agent signings the Twins have made in recent memory. 

Why? He under performed his pro-rated contract in 2020 by less than $2 MM, and out-performed his 2021 contract by just under $2MM according to fan-graphs. His time here was a wash, his on-field performance equaled his salary. And all reports during his time here stated he was a good clubhouse guy. 

If you want bad free agent contracts look at JA Happ, John Gant, Andrelton Simmons, Marwin Gonzales, Jason Castro, Martin Perez, Logan Morrison, Lance Lynn... do I need to go on. 

Donaldson is far from the worst free agent signing in recent memory.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, mnfireman said:

Why? He under performed his pro-rated contract in 2020 by less than $2 MM, and out-performed his 2021 contract by just under $2MM according to fan-graphs. His time here was a wash, his on-field performance equaled his salary. And all reports during his time here stated he was a good clubhouse guy. 

If you want bad free agent contracts look at JA Happ, John Gant, Andrelton Simmons, Marwin Gonzales, Jason Castro, Martin Perez, Logan Morrison, Lance Lynn... do I need to go on. 

Donaldson is far from the worst free agent signing in recent memory.

Between injuries, lack of production, expectations and his overall hit to team chemistry (which I've heard was the opposite of being a good clubhouse guy) he earns my vote as being one of the worst signings in recent memory.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Verified Member
3 minutes ago, rwilfong86 said:

Between injuries, lack of production, expectations and his overall hit to team chemistry (which I've heard was the opposite of being a good clubhouse guy) he earns my vote as worst signing in recent memory.

You are entitled to your opinion, wrong as it may be. Donaldson's numbers while here equaled the value of the contract, which then led to the team being able to trade him for contributing members of this team. I will support anyone wishing to award you a participation trophy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 minutes ago, mnfireman said:

Why? He under performed his pro-rated contract in 2020 by less than $2 MM, and out-performed his 2021 contract by just under $2MM according to fan-graphs. His time here was a wash, his on-field performance equaled his salary. And all reports during his time here stated he was a good clubhouse guy. 

If you want bad free agent contracts look at JA Happ, John Gant, Andrelton Simmons, Marwin Gonzales, Jason Castro, Martin Perez, Logan Morrison, Lance Lynn... do I need to go on. 

Donaldson is far from the worst free agent signing in recent memory.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  In my humble opinion Donaldson was the worst free agent signing in my memory due to his mouth..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, mnfireman said:

You are entitled to your opinion, wrong as it may be. Donaldson's numbers while here equaled the value of the contract, which then led to the team being able to trade him for contributing members of this team. I will support anyone wishing to award you a participation trophy.

If i recall correctly the 2019 team didn't have an issue hitting, it was pitching e.g. Randy Dobnak was a playoff starter. They would have been better inclined spending the money on pitching. Donaldson played well at times but was also injured most of his first season with the Twins and never seemed like his legs recovered for the second year. Watching him try to run to first was painful to watch. I gave him the nickname "Double Play Donaldson" for his propensity to hit into a rally killing double play. You are entitled to your opinion, but the Twins would have been better served using the money for the Donaldson contract for pitching help they desperately needed after 2019 rather than a washed up diva like Donaldson. My fondest memory of JD is him hitting a honerun and getting ejected for kicking dirt on the plate. What a great teammate!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  In my humble opinion Donaldson was the worst free agent signing in my memory due to his mouth.

 I'd take Urshela over a diva like Donaldson any day. He may not be as good offensively but he is a gold glove defender and has come up clutch several times this year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

59 minutes ago, bighat said:

It wasn't worth it, but there's a lot to unpack:

First, the pandemic timing couldn't have been worse for this deal. The contract was pretty big for a player moving into his mid 30s. It was clear that the Twins were counting on HUGE numbers from Donaldson during his first 2 years of the contract: 2020, and 2021. They'd settle for decent numbers in 2022-23, even if it meant overpaying an older player a bit. Unfortunately along came Covid-19 and the first year of the deal was almost completely snuffed out. Even Los Angeles or New York would have felt stung by the horrible timing of this signing, for a team like Minnesota it was horrific.

Next, I think the Twins had plenty of information on Donaldson's character and they were totally on board. They figured this team needed a firebrand, a sparkplug, someone with a bit of an attitude - and why not? Being nice guys wasn't getting them any playoff success, it was worth a shot. What they didn't count on was that Donaldson's attitude could be toxic if allowed to go unchecked. With Toronto he had other big personalities like Joey Bautista, and more big names like Edwin Encarnacion. The Blue Jays were kind of a team filled with "bad boys" (at least on the field) and Donaldson's red-assed behavior didn't seem to affect them much. Alas, when he became the focal point of the team in Minnesota, it just didn't seem to be a good fit long-term. One specific incident I remember was when he hit a HR in Chicago and then was immediately kicked out after showing up the umpire. Yeesh. On the flipside, it's also worth pointing out that there were several articles when Donaldson joined about how helpful he was with young hitters in Spring Training.

Injuries also muddied the waters on the Donaldson signing. Opening up a season, his first hit of the year went for a double in Milwaukee, which was fantastic but he strained his calf on the play and was out for a month. Pretty brutal. Whether it be bad luck or lack of preparation, either way it was just damn unfortunate.

One huge positive was that the Twins showed MLB that they would indeed be able to compete with the rest of the big boys for the biggest free agent names in baseball. They then went out and got Correa two years later, so the Twins have signed the most coveted free agent bats in baseball 2 of the past 4 years. Players and agents are taking notes, it helps the reputation.

Overall the Donaldson signing wasn't worth it, but it wasn't a complete failure. The fact that this team was able to get out from under that contract and flip Josh for a starting catcher and a solid infielder certainly eases the pain. The Twins could have been handicapped long-term by this signing, but they saw a chance to cut bait and should be applauded for doing so. All too often teams hang on to sunk costs and pay a much steeper price.

 

Agree with you, using him to get Urshela and Sanchez was a huge win regardless of how we perceive his tenure to be.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, rwilfong86 said:

If i recall correctly the 2019 team didn't have an issue hitting, it was pitching e.g. Randy Dobnak was a playoff starter. They would have been better inclined spending the money on pitching. Donaldson played well at times but was also injured most of his first season with the Twins and never seemed like his legs recovered for the second year. Watching him try to run to first was painful to watch. I gave him the nickname "Double Play Donaldson" for his propensity to hit into a rally killing double play. You are entitled to your opinion, but the Twins would have been better served using the money for the Donaldson contract for pitching help they desperately needed after 2019 rather than a washed up diva like Donaldson. My fondest memory of JD is him hitting a honerun and getting ejected for kicking dirt on the plate. What a great teammate!

They did try to use the money on pitching. Zach Wheeler signed with the Phillies. Cole was never going to sign here. Ryu signed early with Toronto and has been either injured, or a league average/worse pitcher. Keuchel signed late with Chicago and has been awful the last 2 seasons. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  In my humble opinion Donaldson was the worst free agent signing in my memory due to his mouth..

It seems like you are lumping in his Yankees comments with his twins tenure. I don't recall any reports of him saying or doing anything stupid while with the twins.

 

Either way he hasn't done anything egregiously bad like cheat or assault his wife.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Moving Donaldson was absolutely the right thing to do given this team needed a new direction / new talent and long-term solutions.  Most of us thought we would get nothing and pay a significant portion of his salary.  The front office managed to get value players and ditch Donaldson's contract in full. 

However, as big free agent signings go across the league, Donaldson was far from terrible.  There were a lot of big deals this past off-season.  Semien has a wRC+ of 47 and a negative WAR.  The Rangers other big addition (Seager) has a slash line of .225 / .290 / .391.  Not terrible but not what you need out of a guy you just paid $325M.  Colorado gave Kris Bryant $182M.  His wRC+ is 82 and his WAR is negative.  Javier Baez has a wRC+ of 66.  He is getting $140M over 6 years.  How about Robbie Ray who so many here were upset we did not sign.  His ERA is 4.75.  That’s just from last year.  

There were not many big FA deals prior to the 2021 season.  Trevor Bauer was the big one.  The 2020 class Donaldson came out of had Cole and Strasburg.  Cole has been very good but Strasburg has been a disaster due to injury.  Wheeler has been great.
Go back further and you have Patrick Corbin who was another guy many thought we should have paid whatever it took.  He was good the first two years but terrible the last two years and they have to pay him for two more years.  Eric Hosmer was terrible for 4 years but has had a big resurgence the 1st quarter of this year.  

Big free agents fail often.  If we were to list all of the $100M deals in the last 10 years, I would say that Donaldson would at a minimum be in the middle of the pack.
 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, bighat said:

One specific incident I remember was when he hit a HR in Chicago and then was immediately kicked out after showing up the umpire

That’s not what happened. He had words with the pitcher regarding sticky stuff. It was just after the league cracked down, and we all know how vocal Donaldson was before then, and Donaldson did a kind of a ‘See, I told you so’ that led to his being tossed. Not condoning it, just clarifying it 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Old-Timey Member
17 minutes ago, Squirrel said:

That’s not what happened. He had words with the pitcher regarding sticky stuff. It was just after the league cracked down, and we all know how vocal Donaldson was before then, and Donaldson did a kind of a ‘See, I told you so’ that led to his being tossed. Not condoning it, just clarifying it 

I think he means this incident.  In fairness, he's had a lot of these encounters so it's hard to keep track.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don’t know for certain or not if Donaldson was a negative on the team chemistry. Possibly. He could have been part of the whole with that. Sometimes players and personalities just don’t blend. It’s interesting to see the turn around this year. Kepler commented that they just didn’t blend last year, they weren’t a team, just a bunch of individuals, but I’ve not heard a single report specifically pointing to Donaldson as the cause. Just a lot of scapegoating from Twins Daily, imo.

At the time I liked the signing. Without any hindsight applied, I still like the signing. The Twins showed a commitment to signing a big name. We needed better defense at third and we needed a bat to replace the bats that were leaving after 2019. We needed more fire and personality. I thought the Twins were making a commitment to better the team. I still think that, even though it didn’t work out as hoped. Of course, in HINDSIGHT, it didn’t work out the way I think anyone hoped for various reasons. Part of that wasn’t Donaldson’s fault, because pitching didn’t do us any favors. If I knew all of that before, no I don’t sign him, then what? No way to know for certain if we’d be better off today or not. We got good pieces in return so it wasn’t a total loss. So, maybe there was something worthwhile. But I don’t think it was the worst signing ever. Far from that, even though it didn’t work out as hoped.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Old-Timey Member

I liked the signing then, I had no problem with Donaldson's personality overall (recent comments not withstanding), and I think trading him for Sanchez and Urshela so we could add Correa has been great for this team.  I think it has opened the door for a different kind of leadership that seems to be resonating well so far.

Donaldson was a good, productive player for us.  It was also the right time and way to move him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

27 minutes ago, Squirrel said:

I don’t know for certain or not if Donaldson was a negative on the team chemistry. Possibly. He could have been part of the whole with that. Sometimes players and personalities just don’t blend. It’s interesting to see the turn around this year. Kepler commented that they just didn’t blend last year, they weren’t a team, just a bunch of individuals, but I’ve not heard a single report specifically pointing to Donaldson as the cause. Just a lot of scapegoating from Twins Daily, imo.

At the time I liked the signing. Without any hindsight applied, I still like the signing. The Twins showed a commitment to signing a big name. We needed better defense at third and we needed a bat to replace the bats that were leaving after 2019. We needed more fire and personality. I thought the Twins were making a commitment to better the team. I still think that, even though it didn’t work out as hoped. Of course, in HINDSIGHT, it didn’t work out the way I think anyone hoped for various reasons. Part of that wasn’t Donaldson’s fault, because pitching didn’t do us any favors. If I knew all of that before, no I don’t sign him, then what? No way to know for certain if we’d be better off today or not. We got good pieces in return so it wasn’t a total loss. So, maybe there was something worthwhile. But I don’t think it was the worst signing ever. Far from that, even though it didn’t work out as hoped.

I think you're exactly right with "players and personalities just don't blend."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Verified Member

Donaldson played awfully close to his contract. The issue was the rest of the team didn’t hold up and he wasn’t available enough due to leg injuries.  Without Donaldson we most likely don’t luck into Correa.  We would have spent the money and it wouldn’t have been available.  
 

Here is my math on what we received

2 years of Donaldson

Urshela, Sanchez

Correa

We did have to use some extra prospects/players and money to get to this outcome, but overall the signing and the results from the transactions made it worth it.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, notoriousgod71 said:

It seems like you are lumping in his Yankees comments with his twins tenure. I don't recall any reports of him saying or doing anything stupid while with the twins.

 

Either way he hasn't done anything egregiously bad like cheat or assault his wife.

He is no Trevor Bauer but also no Joe Mauer 😅

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Donaldson wasn't that bad, plus we needed some help on defense. Where we really needed help was SS but it did help. Donaldson wasn't worth the money he got like most top free agents. But there was worse signings yet I'd place him worse than some of signings that've been mentioned.  I'm very glad we  got rid of him and not hung unto him. The chemistry has vastly changed for the better even after Cruz left.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Verified Member

I thought it was a worthwhile effort adding him.  I also believe many blame him for last year and see our winning record this year.  He is not the only person missing from the clubhouse this year.  I've stated before how our record improved after trading Berrios and Cruz.  Sometimes teams don't gell.  But not realistic to blame just one person.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 minutes ago, se7799 said:

I thought it was a worthwhile effort adding him.  I also believe many blame him for last year and see our winning record this year.  He is not the only person missing from the clubhouse this year.  I've stated before how our record improved after trading Berrios and Cruz.  Sometimes teams don't gell.  But not realistic to blame just one person.

I think the losing probably had a deep impact on guys like Cruz and Donaldson, and Berríos knew he was gonna be gone once his contract was over, so moving on from those 3 was huge, and the return on their deals has been a primary factor in the success this season.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund
The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund

You all care about this site. The next step is caring for it. We’re asking you to caretake this site so it can remain the premiere Twins community on the internet.

×
×
  • Create New...