The Mets kept up their incredible spending spree this offseason early on Wednesday morning with an agreement for Carlos Correa to play third base. The Yankees have made their fair share of big splashes over the past couple of weeks, too. However, there are probably a few fans wishing there was a splash to replace Josh Donaldson at third base.
New York has reportedly made Donaldson (and Aaron Hicks) available in trade talks, but they’ve unsurprisingly not had any takers so far.
While Donaldson provided Gold Glove-caliber defense at the hot corner in 2022, he was a shell of his former self at the plate. The former MVP slashed .222/.308/.374 with 15 home runs, 62 RBI, and 59 runs scored in 542 plate appearances. His overall performance was worth just 1.6 fWAR, while his 97 wRC+ was the lowest in a single season since 2012. That’s when he posted a 90 wRC+ for the Athletics in 294 plate appearances.
He’ll be making $21 million in his final guaranteed season of the four-year deal he originally signed with the Minnesota Twins. Manager Aaron Boone still isn’t convinced the 37-year-old is cooked. Here’s what he said during a holiday event in the Bronx (quote via NJ.com):
He’s not far removed from doing it. I think still see the physical tools of the power and the bat speed, and we even saw plate discipline of times this year, too. He’s not far removed from doing it at a really high level. I also think he’s in a better place this winter as far as winter workouts and routines and what he’s able to do.
He finished by saying this:
I think it’s foolish to bet against the guy that had a tough season offensively. I think he’s really motivated to show that that was a blip.
He’s got a point. This is the first time Donaldson has ever played in a major media market like New York. We tend to think these guys are robots and can perform regardless of what goes on around them. But, they’re people just like you and me, and outside factors can impact on-field performance.
Regarding the plate discipline, Boone did mention they saw it at times. It definitely didn’t show up in the season-long stats. Donaldson’s chase rate went from 26.3% in 2021 to 32.7% in 2022. Although, it did go from 34.2% in the first half to 30.7% after the All-Star break.
Will Donaldson be the Yankees’ starting third baseman on Opening Day? That seems like a distinct possibility. We’ll see how the trade market shapes up within the coming weeks, though. If a deal doesn’t materialize, New York will hope for some kind of return to form for Donaldson.