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Atlanta Braves free agent profile: Josh Donaldson

Atlanta Braves

OAKLAND, CA – AUGUST 07: Josh Donaldson #20 of the Oakland Athletics in action during their game against the Minnesota Twins at Coliseum on August 7, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Braves are looking for power in their lineup. Could they end up finding it in a former Toronto slugger?

As the 2018/2019 offseason continues, it’s quite likely that previous relationships that Atlanta Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos had in previous spots will begin to show through in trades and free agent deals. One of the very obvious targets since last offseason has been Josh Donaldson.

We’ll take a look at Donaldson’s past career, his 2017-2018 struggles, and his potential contract and whether he’d be a worthy target for the Atlanta Braves.

Oakland time

While he was a first-round pick by the Chicago Cubs, Donaldson had just barely a year in the Cubs system when he was part of a July 2008 trade that sent Rich Harden to Chicago. Donaldson had been one of a group of highly-regarded catchers in the 2007 draft coming out of Auburn, a class headlined by Georgia Tech’s Matt Wieters. In all, eight catchers were selected in the first round and supplemental round, which constituted 64 selections.

While he was regarded well for his arm behind the plate, Donaldson’s defense was well behind his bat, and after committing 16 errors and seeing 17 passed balls in AA with Midland in 2009 (in spite of an impressive 40% caught stealing rate), the transition for Donaldson began.

The Athletics spent 2010 trying Donaldson at multiple positions before settling on 3B in 2011 (71 games at catcher, 27 at 3B). He split his minor league time in 2012 between third and catcher, but the third base performance was impressive enough that he moved up to the major leagues and played 71 games with the big league club at third, hitting .241/.289/.398 with 9 home runs.

Donaldson came out in 2013 with an incredible season, hitting .301/.384/.499 with 37 doubles and 24 home runs, finishing 4th in MVP voting. He followed with another big season in 2014, making the All-Star game, with a .255/.342/.456 line, 31 doubles, and 29 home runs.

Heading into arbitration coming off of two seasons of excellent production, Donaldson was a valuable trade chip, and after being granted Super 2 status, he was going to be eligible for arbitration in the 2014-2015 offseason. The Oakland Athletics chose to shop him.

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