• The Nats signed both Asdrubal Cabrera and Starlin Castro to contracts
  • That means they have less motivation and payroll to pursue Josh Donaldson
  • The Braves and Twins are now the two front-runners for his signature

The Washington Nationals have signed two veteran free agent infielders in Starlin Castro and Asdrubal Cabrera, leaving the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins as the likeliest landing spots for the third baseman Josh Donaldson.

The 34-year-old Donaldson spent last season in Atlanta where he has a sort of renaissance in his career. The former Toronto Blue Jay and Oakland Athletic smashed 37 home runs en route to driving in 94 RBIs and he also posted a respectable .259 batting average.

That makes him the most appealing player left on the free agent market and he knows it. Donaldson is seeking a four-year contract worth at least $100 million and has even gotten an offer from Washington, who MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports have not yet withdrawn their contract.

Josh Donaldson Toronto Blue Jays
Josh Donaldson #20 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after being called out on strikes in the third inning during MLB game action against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rogers Centre on May 23, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Nats do have money to spend after seeing Anthony Rendon chose to sign with the Los Angeles Angels this winter. They had budgeted a huge offer for the third baseman so Washington does have at least some 2020 payroll available.

However, after inking both Castro and Cabrera to a combined $18.5 million for next season, as per Jeff Passan of ESPN, their willingness to meet Donaldson’s four-year $110 million contract demands are less likely than ever.

That leaves the door open for both the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins. The Braves did tender a qualifying offer to Donaldson just before he hit the free agent market. However, they have already signed a number of players including Nick Markakis, Will Harris and Cole Hamels.

That means they likely can’t offer much more than the $17.5 million contract they tendered to register as a qualifying offer. The Twins, meanwhile, are not projected to be a real playoff contender and Donaldson doesn’t have any real connections to the franchise.

Despite these issues with the two remaining suitors, they are now seen as much more likely destinations for the aging third baseman. As per the Athletic’s David O’Brien, both have tabled four-year deals to the veteran Donaldson.

That sets up a possible bidding war between the two. Due to the qualifying offer from the Braves, it seems much more likely for Donaldson to return to Atlanta as the Twins would have to give up a draft pick. However, don’t expect to see them give up easily.