On Air Now

Listen Now

Weather

clear-day
32°
Very Cold
H 40° L 25°
  • clear-day
    32°
    Current Conditions
    Very Cold. H 40° L 25°
  • very-cold-day
    40°
    Today
    Very Cold. H 40° L 25°
  • very-cold-day
    42°
    Tomorrow
    Very Cold. H 42° L 24°
Listen
Pause
Error

News on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Listen
Pause
Error

Weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Baseball
Life after Donaldson: Braves explore options after slugger departs for Twins
Close

Life after Donaldson: Braves explore options after slugger departs for Twins

Josh Donaldson leaving for Twins. What do Braves do now?

Life after Donaldson: Braves explore options after slugger departs for Twins

Josh Donaldson was a Brave for only one season. Yet his fit was so natural, his personality so suitable, his production so solid, he seemed destined to stay part of the family. 

Which made it all-the-more gut-wrenching for Braves fans when Donaldson bid farewell to the family Tuesday night. When the 34-year-old free agent agreed to a deal with Minnesota, it opened an enormous power gap down South.

Donaldson departed for the Twin Cities, leaving what seemed to be the perfect match:
• Leaving general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who clearly adored him but apparently not quite enough. 
• Leaving Atlanta, the South’s king city which resides not far from Alabama, where Donaldson’s family and friends could see him play in the shadow of home. 
• Leaving his teammates, who grew to love his outlandish personality over the course of the season’s trek.

The Braves, coming off a 97-win season that produced their second consecutive division title, lost one of their lineup’s best hitters. After months of negotiation and a winter of rumors that centered on one individual, a crucial piece of the Braves’ record-setting offense was suddenly gone. 

Now, the Braves must turn to other options. Plan B, C, or D if keeping Donaldson was Plan A. There are options inside and outside the organization.

» MARK BRADLEY: No plan B after Donaldson

Pitchers and catchers report for spring training in less than a month, Feb. 12, and the Braves’ roster looks incomplete. They plugged most of their holes before Christmas; now the largest one of all looms over an otherwise successful offseason.

The Braves don’t have a clear-cut power hitter. They just lost 37 homers and 94 RBIs, along with the intangibles Donaldson brought. They lost his steady defense. They lost a marketable star, the “Bringer of Rain,” who prompted Southerners to bring out their umbrellas on the sunniest days. Now, they’ll be making “Purple Rain” references in Minneapolis while the only umbrellas you’ll see at Truist Park will be due to ill-timed summer storms.

Close

Life after Donaldson: Braves explore options after slugger departs for Twins

Minnesota reportedly impressed Donaldson in their meetings. The Twins came armed with a fully guaranteed four-year contract that included a fifth-year option. He’ll make at least $92 million. The Braves weren’t willing to reach such heights. 

It might prove wise in the long run — Donaldson is 34, after all — but in the short term, the Braves have a major issue. The ultra-competitive National League East is licking its chops. An integral part of the mighty Braves is now the American League’s problem. A lineup that imposed so much fear a season ago looks much easier to navigate Jan. 15.

But that’s the catch: It’s January. The offseason is very much alive and well. There are options, though all flawed, to fill the Donaldson vacancy. Perhaps the Braves are a shrewd move away from coming up roses; they’re a mistake away from potentially costing themselves a third consecutive playoff appearance. 

They didn’t earn themselves any good graces with the fans by letting Donaldson walk, but satisfying fans can be a fool’s errand. Bottom line: If the Braves still win, it won’t really matter. They made this decision in the long-term interest, even if it hurts today.

In future times, Donaldson might be remembered as the best one-year free-agent signing in team history. He helped create one of the most exciting Braves since the club relocated to Atlanta in 1966. He’ll was revered, but he’s a part of the past now. All the Braves can do is look forward to their other options.

About those fancy alternatives: Rather than spend a massive sum of prospects and cash to acquire a star third baseman such as Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant, the Braves are likelier to explore the outfield market. They’ve checked on both high-profile players, but the organization isn’t inclined to make such a splash.

Arenado’s value is complicated by a lengthy contract and opt-out in two years. The 28-year old is signed through his age 35 season for $244 million should he not opt out. The Rockies will want rich prospect compensation for their face of the franchise as well.

Bryant has defensive concerns and is set to reel in a record deal in 2022 (if not sooner because of a grievance filed against the team over service-time manipulation). The Cubs, of course, have set a high price for their former MVP. 

Should the Braves turn their attention to the outfield, as expected, the third base hole will be addressed internally. In-house candidates Johan Camargo and Austin Riley are slated to compete for the job, with Camargo the probable starter. While both are risks, their presence allows the Braves to find their clean-up hitter at another position.

That’s where the outfield comes in. Ronald Acuna is set to man right field, Ender Inciarte is slotted in center and a Nick Markakis-Adam Duvall platoon would be featured in left. The Braves could shift those players around and alter their playing time if another outfielder is added; they’d certainly be in a good position depth-wise. 

Two available outfielders stand out among the pack: Free agents Marcell Ozuna and Nick Castellanos. Both possess pop that can make up for much of Donaldson’s production, though both come with defensive limitations. The Braves aren’t in a position to be picky, but they also won’t act on desperation. We’ve seen enough from this regime to know how it values patience.

Ozuna tormented the Braves in the NLDS, helping the Cardinals advance. A longtime Marlin, Ozuna hit 52 homers for the Cardinals over the past two seasons. Rumors have connected him to the Braves for much of the winter, and while past interest was to a degree overstated, the team might now pivot more seriously to Ozuna. 

Castellanos was dealt from the Tigers to the Cubs at July’s trade deadline. He hit 16 homers and knocked in 36 runs over 51 games for the Cubs, bringing his season totals to 27 home runs and 73 RBIs. Castellanos, while an uninspiring defender, has slugged 23-plus homers in three consecutive seasons. He averaged 83 RBIs per campaign over that time. However, his defense can be so atrocious it cuts into his offensive value. 

Neither player is Donaldson, to be clear. But each can replicate a sizable chunk of his offensive production at a lower cost. And neither would cost the Braves precious prospects, which preserves the franchise’s lifeblood and gives it more ammunition come July. 

Close

Life after Donaldson: Braves explore options after slugger departs for Twins

Speaking of prospects, that throws another issue into the mix. The Braves will have lauded outfielders Cristian Pache and Drew Waters simmering in Triple-A. They could both debut this season. How much the Braves are willing to invest in an outfielder will be influenced by the Pache-Waters portion of the equation.

There are lesser discussed names the Braves could consider on the trade market. They were interested in Mitch Haniger last winter but Seattle wasn’t ready to move him. Pittsburgh’s Starling Marte is reportedly acquirable and would be a force in the Braves’ lineup. Free-agent Yasiel Puig wasn’t of strong interest in the past, but could the Braves be needy enough to roll the dice on a one-year deal?  

Those aren’t the only names. There are ample options, even if most aren’t particularly exciting. If the Pache-Waters factor, along with less-than-ideal asking prices, forces the Braves to keep the status quo, they’ll again ask for patience. It can be argued that hasn’t yet steered them wrong.

The Braves made a choice not to meet Donaldson’s asking price, for better or worse. When they took that stance, they were aware they would be thrust into this situation. Plan B was the choice the Braves made. Now, they’re tasked with balancing the nearer future and not only keeping their franchise atop the NL East, but engineering a roster built to go deeper in the playoffs. 

That mission will succeed or fail without Donaldson. 

Read More

News

  • On the eve of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, the president’s legal team said Monday called the case “flimsy” and a “dangerous perversion of the Constitution,” according to The Associated Press. The brief, which was filed Monday in anticipation of arguments expected this week in the Senate impeachment trial, dismisses the case as a “brazenly political act” by the House of Representatives, The New York Times reported. The legal team also claims in its brief that the “rigged process” should be rejected by the Senate, the newspaper reported. The brief further states that neither of the two articles of impeachment against Trump are valid because they do not state a violation of the law, the Times reported. The 110-page brief from the White House asserts the case was never about finding the truth, the AP reported. 'Instead, House Democrats were determined from the outset to find some way — any way — to corrupt the extraordinary power of impeachment for use as a political tool to overturn the result of the 2016 election and to interfere in the 2020 election,” Trump’s legal team wrote, according to the AP. “All of that is a dangerous perversion of the Constitution that the Senate should swiftly and roundly condemn.” Proceedings in the impeachment trial are scheduled to begin Tuesday.
  • You might know him as Khal Drogo. Others see him as Aquaman. Regardless, actor Jason Momoa brought plenty of smiles to patients and families at UPMC Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. Hospital officials said Momoa visited the facility while taking a break filming his Netflix feature in Pittsburgh, WPXI reported. The hospital posted photos on social media of the actor visiting patients at the facility. The Netflix movie, “Sweet Girl,” will begin filming in the fall. Momoa is producing it.
  • That was sew nice. A stray cat in Wisconsin lost her ears to an infection, but now she has some new ones after a woman crocheted her some new ones, WTMJ reported. The cat, named Lady in a Fur Coat, had to have her ear flaps removed according to the Dane County Humane Society. The feline was bought into the Humane Society in December and began treatment for chronic ear infections, spokeswoman Marissa DeGroot told CNN. The cat’s appearance was a little unsettling, so Ash Collins, who works at the Humane Society, decided to crochet Lady an ear bonnet, CNN reported. It took some gentle persuasion and treats, but the cat finally was fitted into her new purple ears. “It’s amazing because we see these strays and medical cases come in and I think we’re always surprised by their resiliency,” DeGroot told CNN. Less than 24 hours after the Humane Society posted the cat’s story on Facebook, Lady was adopted.
  • A New Hampshire man died Sunday night when his snowmobile fell through the ice on the largest lake in Maine, authorities said. Steven K. Allard, 56, of South Hampton, was returning from snowmobiling with his wife on Moosehead Lake when his vehicle broke through the ice on the west side of the lake, the Bangor Daily News reported. Allard’s snowmobile fell into the ice near the mouth of the Moose River, according to Mark Latti, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Allard was pulled from the lake at 10:15 p.m. but he was unresponsive, Latti told the Daily News. Allard was taken to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Latti said. “Snowmobilers need to stay aware of their surroundings and understand that ice conditions can change quickly,” Sgt. Bill Chandler, of the Maine Warden Service, told the Daily News. “This section of the lake, where the Moose River flows into Moosehead Lake, always has poor ice, and that is why there are marked trails on the lake so that snowmobilers can avoid the bad ice in this area.”
  • A woman was shot Friday night after an argument at an Applebee’s restaurant in South Carolina, authorities said. Joseph Raekwon Rapp, 23, of Greenwood, was charged with attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, The State newspaper of Columbia reported. The woman, whose name and condition were not disclosed, was shot twice in the upper body, according to Greenville police. She was taken to an area hospital for surgery, WHNS reported. According to a news release, Rapp and the woman were arguing in the crowded restaurant around 9:21 p.m., WSPA reported. Greenwood police Maj. T.J. Chaudoin said the relationship between the two was not immediately clear, but describe the incident as a domestic situation, the Index-Journal of Greenwood reported. “Obviously there were a lot of people eating here tonight who were very startled,” Chaudoin told the newspaper. Rapp fled the restaurant but later turned himself in at the Greenwood County Detention Center, the newspaper reported. According to the public index, Rapp was out on bond while awaiting trial, the Index-Journal reported.
  • Police in Fayetteville, North Carolina, said a man broke into a home and forced a woman and a 1-month-old boy into a car at gunpoint, according to WTVD. The home invasion and kidnapping happened Monday at 1:12 a.m. Wani Thomas broke into a home on Tangerine Drive and forced Jasmine Livermore and the baby boy, Nathaniel Thomas, into a vehicle, police said. Authorities are currently searching for all three. Thomas is considered armed and dangerous and last seen wearing a brown jacket with blue jeans. Livermore, 20, was last seen wearing gray pants, a brown shirt and a camouflage jacket. Anyone with information should call Fayetteville police at (910) 676-2597 or Cumberland County Crimestoppers at (910) 483-8477.