Ex-MVP and sleeper signing
Lost in the buzz of the Bryce Harper and Manny Machado free agencies this past offseason was the quiet signing of a former MVP that could have great impact on the race in the ultra-competitive National League East this season.
Josh Donaldson, who last November signed a one-year, $23 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, was one of the most feared hitters in the game from 2013 to 2017, putting up a .282 batting average with 164 home runs, 491 RBIs, a .380 on-base percentage and an OPS of .904 as a member of the Oakland A’s and Toronto Blue Jays. His best season came with the Jays in 2015, when his 41 homers, 123 RBIs and .297 average earned him the American League MVP award.
But then injuries began to take their toll, first a strained calf that limited him to 113 games in 2017, and then shoulder and calf woes that saw him play only 52 games in ’18 and bat just .246 with eight homers and 23 RBIs, all career lows since he became a regular in 2013. With free agency looming, the Jays decided to get what they could for the three-time All-Star and shipped him to the Cleveland Indians for a pitching prospect in August.
Now at 33, in a new league and coming off two-straight injury-riddled seasons, Donaldson has something to prove. Toward that end, he worked on his lower body in the offseason to strengthen his feet, improve his mobility and most importantly, stay on the field all year. If he’s right, he knows that the numbers – and another contract – will follow. The Braves are counting on it.
Donaldson can be seen in action when the Braves host the New York Mets Sunday, April 14, on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball.”
Full name: Joshua Adam Donaldson
Birth date: Dec. 8, 1985
Birthplace: Pensacola, Fla.
Height/weight: 6 feet, 1 inch/210 pounds
Teams: Oakland A’s (2010-14); Toronto Blue Jays (2015-18); Cleveland Indians (2018); Atlanta Braves (2019-present)
Position: third base
Honors and achievements: Three-time All-Star; 2015 American League MVP; Silver Slugger Award (2015, 2016); AL RBI and run scored leader (2015); Hank Aaron Award (2015)