It appears the Philadelphia Phillies officials have been quite busy lately.
In addition to having met with star pitcher Patrick Corbin at Citizens Bank Park this week, Fancred‘s Jon Heyman says that the Phillies met with third baseman Josh Donaldson. This of course, was prior to Donaldson agreeing to a one-year/$23 million deal with the division-rival Atlanta Braves.
Donaldson, 32, is coming off an injury-laden season in which he only played in 52 games, while hitting .246/.352/.449 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs. However, Donaldson was a force to be reckoned with the past few seasons, as he totaled 116 home runs and 316 RBIs in his four seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, with 41 of those home runs coming in 2014. From 2014 to 2016, Donaldson went to three straight All-Star Games. Donaldson also has a career bWAR of 38.5.
This isn’t the first time the Phillies have shown interest in Donaldson, as MLB Network Radio’s Steve Phillips reported in August the Phillies were one of the teams that had discussed a trade for the former American League MVP with the Blue Jays. Donaldson was eventually traded to the Cleveland Indians.
The meeting adds to the belief that current third basemen Maikel Franco will be traded this offseason, as NBC Sports Philadelphia‘s Jim Salisbury said confidently. Salisbury noted the San Diego Padres would be a good match in a deal for Franco. This also raises the question if the Phillies are still looking for a third baseman, which they would need if Franco is indeed traded. The current plan appears to be to have Carlos Santana shift across the diamond to third base for a bulk of the starts in 2019, though it’s far from a certainty that he won’t get traded this offseason as well.
Looking at the free-agent market, Mike Moustakas is the most accomplished name remaining. As Salisbury noted back in June, the Phillies and Kansas City Royals had discussions regarding Moustakas, and Kansas City had been scouting Philadelphia’s minor league systems. Beyond Moustakas, there aren’t many quality options. Jed Lowrie has experience at third, although he’s mainly been used as a second basemen. Manny Machado, one of the two superstars on the market along with Bryce Harper, has stated his desire to play shortstop instead of third base. That could very well be a deal-breaker for Machado as he looks for his next destination.
Donaldson is just the latest name in the list of players the Phillies have been connected to this offseason. While there’s been surprisingly little news recently regarding Harper and Machado, reports of interest in players like Madison Bumgarner, Andrew Miller, Patrick Corbin, Paul Goldschmidt and Edwin Diaz have all popped up in past weeks. Of course, this could very well be intentional. As MLB.com’s Paul Morosi explained, sources said the Phillies won’t be waiting on Harper and Machado’s decisions, instead choosing to sign “multiple free agents” before either one signs.
That kind of approach fits owner John Middleton’s aggressiveness and brings plenty of benefits as well. Waiting on Harper and Machado could result in the loss of other potential free agents signings. On the flip side, if the Phillies were to sign multiple impact free agents now, it would lessen the blow of possibly missing out on Harper or Machado.
While Donaldson won’t be donning red pinstripes in 2019, his meeting with the Phillies shows the team is exploring virtual every option this offseason. The only question that remains is when the first deal will be struck.
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