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This free agent's market is already heating up

@feinsand
November 11, 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Free agency is barely in its infancy stage, but as the General Managers Meetings commenced Monday, one name on the market is already starting to gain serious momentum: Josh Donaldson. The 2015 American League MVP Award winner already has more than a half-dozen teams on his trail,

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Free agency is barely in its infancy stage, but as the General Managers Meetings commenced Monday, one name on the market is already starting to gain serious momentum: Josh Donaldson.

The 2015 American League MVP Award winner already has more than a half-dozen teams on his trail, with the Rangers, Phillies, Braves and Nationals chief among them, according to sources.

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Donaldson is part of a top-heavy third-base market, one that also includes Anthony Rendon and Mike Moustakas. Rendon is considered the top free-agent position player available this offseason, but one executive suggested that teams in the market for a third baseman might not wait around for Rendon -- who is repped by Scott Boras, an agent who has been known to be deliberate with his free-agent clients -- to make a decision when a player such as Donaldson is available.

“If a team is worried that waiting for Rendon could mean they get neither of them, they could make a move for Donaldson,” the executive said.

Donaldson signed a one-year, $23 million deal with the Braves last Nov. 26, becoming one of the first major free agents to sign. It’s unclear whether he’ll sign in November again this year, but with so many teams expressing interest in the three-time All-Star, his market could begin to clarify itself in the coming weeks.

Back in the game

The Rangers are expected to be a big player in the free-agent market, something that hasn’t been the case in recent years. Texas is moving to a new ballpark in 2020, and with third base among its top priorities, the expectation is that the Rangers will make a big push to sign either Rendon or Donaldson.

“Last couple of years, we didn’t spend much time at the top of the market,” Rangers GM Jon Daniels said. “We weren’t in those games. We’re going to be in those games. There’s a level that we’re willing to get to, and I can’t yet sit here and tell you how it’s going to play out.

“At some point, we’re going to have to make choices. Right now, we’re trying to sort through what our best options are. We’ve got an idea of where we’d like to go, but you’ve got to have more than one option in a competitive market.”

The new Globe Life Field will be used as part of the Rangers’ sales pitch to free agents, according to Daniels, who also pointed to ownership’s commitment to winning and the fact that the franchise understands what it takes to win, having been in back-to-back World Series within the past decade.

“From a recruiting standpoint, it can only help when you’re talking about climate control and the kind of creature comforts and advancements we’re going to have in our clubhouse that can help guys get on the field and stay on the field,” Daniels said.

Open mind

The Red Sox are expected to be creative this offseason in an effort to trim payroll, with a number of players potentially on the trade block.

Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are the two names that seem to be drawing the most attention, and while it seems improbable that Boston would make a big deal with an AL East rival, new chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom indicated Monday that he’s open to any and all possibilities.

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"I never like to think that way,” Bloom said. “I think it’s our job right now to make contact with 29 other clubs and to get the best sense we can of what everybody is trying to do and go from there.”

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has been on the record in the past saying he talks trades with 28 teams, the lone exception being the rival Red Sox. The last trade between the two teams came at the Trade Deadline in 2014, when Stephen Drew was sent to the Bronx for Kelly Johnson. A big deal between the two teams is unlikely, but Bloom refused to rule anything out.

“I think it would be irresponsible of us to dismiss that,” Bloom said.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.