Donaldson – Bryant – Seager a trio of choices for third base

Let me ask you a question, if Josh Donaldson had five-year deals in-hand, why hasn’t he accepted one of them? The only real movement is in the debates and in social media with the daily updates from media pontificators like Jon Heyman and Bob Nightengale who have claimed for over a week that the former AL MVP has five-year deals to choose from, and the normally reliable Ken Rosenthal says the Washington Nationals have given four-year deals with rumored value of over $92 million. Of course there is the Braves who put the “Qualified Offer” tag on Donaldson and by all accounts they want him back too for next to nothing. So why did my source from inside the Nats organization tell me on Friday afternoon that was not true about a four-year offer from the Nats? Again, in the end, maybe Donaldson gets a four-year deal from the Nationals, but to this point, all we are hearing is crickets chirping. 

“We have interest in Josh Donaldson,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “We’re in conversations with a lot of different people, there’s a lot of moving parts, and he’s one of them.”

Before general manager Mike Rizzo inks a third baseman, there is a trio of candidates who we will look at in greater detail. This is like Monty Hall on Let’s Make A Deal. What is behind the other curtains? One of our sources believes Atlanta had moved on from Donaldson and are more interested in Kris Bryant who could be a 1-2 year stop-gap for them, but in the meantime, the Braves are happy to drive up the price on Donaldson. Maybe Donaldson wants to stay in Atlanta — but the two sides were thought to be far apart. Maybe they can work out a deal, but as we know it takes two to tango.

For Rizzo, he certainly has a Plan B and Plan C, and maybe Riz is playing games like Monty Hall and Donaldson is not his Plan A. That is what makes this all so intriguing when all the curtains are pulled back.

My own thoughts are to take a step back and look beyond the three biggest names who are reportedly available in Donaldson, Bryant and Nolan Arenado, and look at Kyle Seager who has two years plus an option remaining on his deal with the rebuilding Mariners. Seager is what is known as a “salary dump” due to his contract status now. Seager is 32 years old and has a Gold Glove and an All-Star appearance on his resumé as well as two seasons with MVP votes. Seager had never played less than 154 games (2011 rookie season excluded) until the 2019 season due to an extensor hood tear in his non-throwing hand which limited him to 106 games, and Seager still put up a +2.9 WAR.  If you extrapolate that +2.9 WAR to a 150 game season then Seager would have been worth a +4.1 WAR.

The hidden value in Seager is that he has better road splits in his career and last year had an .843 OPS on the road. On top of that, Seager’s AAV is $14.3 million with a $19.5 million cash payment due in the 2020 season and $18.5 in 2021 with a team option that turns into a player option for 2022 if he is traded.  Seager’s contract would save the Nats cash to spend on second base, first base and the bullpen. He is the classic change-of-scenery candidate as he just does not hit well in Seattle. Did we mention that Seager is a lefty batter with very even splits? Yes, that is why he plays almost every game. Last year he crushed lefty pitching. The risk with Seager is he could be due for age regression.

Kyle Seager Games Played top rankings (prior to 2019):

Year BP Rank
2018 155 13th in AL
2017 154 21st in AL
2016 158 12th in AL
2015 161 2nd in AL
2014 159 4th in AL
2013 160 4th in AL
2012 155 21st in AL

Kyle Seager RBI top rankings (prior to 2018):

Year RBI Rank
2017 88 21st in AL
2016 99 16th in AL
2014 96 13th in AL
2012 86 17th in AL

Trading for Kris Bryant would cost the Nats some top prospects at a time when the Nats farm system is in the bottom-third in baseball. Bryant is currently embroiled in a grievance against his employer due to a service time dispute that dates back to his rookie season when he was held back to keep his service time max’d out at 6 years and 5 months. Bryant will either have one or two years of team control remaining pending the outcome of the grievance. Bryant is a star for sure, and MLBTR estimates he will get $18.5 million in arbitration this season. He has a career .901 OPS and will be 28 years old next month. He already has three All-Star appearances and an MVP and is the one player who could put up more production than Rendon in 2020. He is projected to be a +4.7 to +4.8 WAR in 2020.

We could mention Nolan Arenado as a trade candidate, but he would blow the Nats budget unless he had cash coming back from his current employer. Plus you will always have those Rocky Mountain stats to cloud his value if traded to a team that does not play their home games in thin air.

Other trade possibilities are Hunter Dozier and for sh### and giggles we will mention Jose Ramirez and Eduardo Escobar again in case their teams decide to trade them at the July 31 trade deadline. Neither of them look to be traded at this point in time.

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