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Rumor: Braves’ Josh Donaldson has improved his market heading into this winter

Josh Donaldson, Braves

The Atlanta Braves have been quite aggressive in the past year, but they mostly drew headlines for the extensions they handed to Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies.

One signing that has paid massive dividends is the one-year, $23 million deal the Braves gave third baseman Josh Donaldson in November.

After playing just 52 games due to injury in 2018 and missing 49 games in the year prior, Donaldson has responded with an excellent season, hitting 32 homers with a .903 OPS in his first 130 games with Atlanta.

According to ESPN MLB Insider Jeff Passan, Donaldson’s performance has greatly enhanced his value heading into the winter:

Yes, Donaldson turns 34 in December. But the way he has played — hitting .260/.374/.529 with 32 home runs — he’s well within his rights to pursue a multiyear deal at a higher cost than he’s making this season. The bat, the glove, the work ethic — Donaldson is rather similar to the last player whose make-good deal went so well: Adrian Beltre.

Donaldson ranks 29th in the majors in terms of fWAR. According to FanGraph’s “Dollars” metric — which converts WAR to a dollar scale — Donaldson has been worth over $31 million this season. He has been fully healthy, and he is arguably having his best defensive season since he won American League MVP with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015.

Despite his age and the injury concerns, Donaldson has provided even more protection for the likes of Acuna and Freddie Freeman in Atlanta’s lineup. The Braves may look to re-sign Donaldson at a higher annual value depending on whether or not they pursue one of the starting pitchers on the market or decide to make an aggressive play to acquire Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox.