Entering the season’s final month, the Brewers are in position to claim their second division title in the past three years. And if Milwaukee, currently holding a three-game lead over the Cubs, can hold off the competition, its postseason roster might feature three-time All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson.
The club announced Thursday that they have signed Donaldson to a Minor League contract. The 37-year-old will report to Triple-A Nashville and will be eligible for Brewers’ postseason roster, should they make it, as he signed before the end of August.
The addition comes two days after Donaldson was released by the Yankees amid an injury-marred season. He is hitting just .142 with a .659 OPS in 34 games this year. He has been sidelined by a right calf strain since mid-July and wasn’t in line to be eligible for activation off the 60-day IL until Sept. 15 -- but that resets with a move to a new organization, Milwaukee GM Matt Arnold said. The Brewers are free to call up Donaldson to the Majors at any time.
“Certainly you look at the pedigree of this guy and what he's accomplished in the game. I think walking in the door, he has instant credibility and a presence,” Arnold said. “I think that that could potentially help us.”
Asked how long Donaldson might need in the Minors before he’s on the radar for the big league roster, Arnold said, “He hasn't been in games in a while, so we're going to need to get him some regular at-bats in Nashville. … He seems to be ready to go, but we want to assess him physically and make sure that he's good to go, obviously. He's a competitor, and I'm sure he wants to get going as soon as possible. But we always want to do that safely.”
Prior to landing with New York in 2022, Donaldson was one baseball’s best third basemen for nearly a decade. He recorded a 139 OPS+ from 2013-21 and won the AL MVP Award while with the Blue Jays in '15. Defensively, his 18 Outs Above Average since the start of '19 ranks seventh among qualified third basemen.
Donaldson’s experience was also a major factor, Arnold said. The Brewers are stocked with a number of rookies, including third baseman Andruw Monasterio and second baseman Bruce Turang on the infield, and Joey Wiemer and Sal Frelick in the outfield. Donaldson, meanwhile, has more than 200 career postseason plate appearances.
Monasterio has been handling the bulk of the playing time at the hot corner in Milwaukee since the beginning of July. He got off to an impressive start in the Majors, carrying an .807 OPS through his first 37 games. But Monasterio has been in a slump throughout August, hitting .211 with a .590 OPS in 90 at-bats.
The Brewers also have veteran third baseman Brian Anderson, but his playing time has evaporated as his OPS has fallen since a hot start.
“I think Monasterio has done a really good job for us this year,” Arnold said. “He's had some really, really big hits. He's made some incredible defensive plays, especially on some charge plays. He’s a rookie that's shown some really good upside here with us and he's also a great teammate. There's certainly a lot of things to like there about Andruw.
“Having somebody like Josh Donaldson just gives us another another potential option there and another bat.”
Donaldson was among three players added on Thursday by the Brewers, who also picked up Minor League outfielder Chris Roller from Cleveland for cash and outfielder Greg Allen via a Minor League contract. Like Donaldson, both Allen and Roller will report to Nashville.