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Tipsheet: Donaldson, Arenado, Bryant still in play in MLB marketplace

Tipsheet: Donaldson, Arenado, Bryant still in play in MLB marketplace

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Braves take NLDS lead with 3-1 victory over Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals Harrison Bader is tagged out by Atlanta Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson after trying to steal in the eighth inning. Atlanta took a 2-1 lead in the National League Division Series after beating the Cardinals 3-1 on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019 at Busch Stadium. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com.

At some point, perhaps soon, the dominoes will fall on the remaining offensive players in free agency and on the trade market.

According to various reports, third baseman Josh Donaldson has four-year offers in hand for $100 million and more. The Atlanta Braves would love to have him back, the Washington Nationals offered him a chance to replace Anthony Rendon and the Minnesota Twins are threatening to spend money.

The Texas Rangers are aggressively shopping for offense, so they are pushing the market for Donaldson and Nicholas Castellanos, and Nolan Arenado on the trade front.

The Colorado Rockies appear willing to part with Arenado for a package of prospects. They always need pitching, so it’s not hard to play general manager and conjure up a Cardinals trade package built around Dakota Hudson.

The Cardinals could certainly afford to take on Arenado’s remaining $234 million on his contract, but there all sorts of roadblocks: Arenado has an opt-out clause and no-trade protections, and the Cardinals owe third baseman Matt Carpenter $39 million for the next two years.

So Tipsheet keeps advising fans not to get too worked up about Arenado.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs are waiting for an arbitrator to decide if they control Kris Bryant for one more year or two. That ruling will have massive impact on Bryant’s trade value.

If the Cubs win the argument, Bryant becomes less of a rental and more valuable to teams that miss out on Donaldson or Arenado. The Cubs are also looking to get a prospect pile for catcher Willson Contreras, who has three years left on his contract.

As for Castellanos, if he lands in Texas that would seem to put the Marcell Ozuna bidding down to the Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds.

Meanwhile, teams are curious to see if the Boston Red Sox get serious about trading Mookie Betts as part of a long-term payroll restructuring. That team is also shopping pitcher David Price for the same reason.

Here is what folks are writing about the marketplace:

Jeff Passan, ESPN.com: “The plotlines surrounding Boston Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts are delicious and could span the entire calendar. This week, arbitration-eligible players and teams will parry and jostle and try to settle on salaries for the 2020 season -- and Betts should smash the record for a pre-free-agency player. Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado set a final-year arbitration mark at $26 million last year. Betts made $20 million last year and would have a good case for a $30 million-plus salary if he and the team don't settle by the exchange date Friday, when both parties disclose the salary they will argue for should the case wind up in an arbitration hearing . . . Most of the high-impact free agents are signed. The trade market has been a giant bust all winter. And with spring training barely a month away, Boston finds itself in an awkward no-man's-land where it has neither improved significantly nor done anything to achieve its goal of cutting payroll. Currently, the Red Sox's roster projects to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $225 million -- nearly $20 million above the $208 million luxury-tax threshold under which they'd like to dip. Dealing Betts would solve that. It also would make them demonstrably worse in 2020. With a barren farm system, the Red Sox, in the short term at least, may need to spend around their shortcomings.”

Will Leitch, MLB.com: “Donaldson just had a terrific year there and by all accounts would love to continue playing in Atlanta, and the Braves are trying to win the World Series and will definitely have a better chance to do so if Donaldson is on their team. The question is: How high are the Braves willing to go? Donaldson’s reported asking price of four years, $110 million is quite a hike from what the Braves paid him for one year, and it would immediately make him the highest-paid player on the (already very talented) roster. But that’s largely because players like Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman signed club-friendly long-term extensions well before reaching free agency, and there’s a good argument to be made that the Braves could very well pass the savings on those salaries to Donaldson. The Braves are clearly trying to wait out Donaldson. The question may be one of who blinks first.”

Matt Martell, SI.com: “If Josh Donaldson’s asking price is too high for the Braves, Todd Frazier becomes the obvious player to sign. The drop off from Donaldson to Frazier is significant, but that’s why Frazier is more affordable option and less of a commitment. Both are 34, though Donaldson is reportedly asking for four years at $110 million. Frazier’s last contract with the Mets was for two years and $17 million. Atlanta, or another team that misses out on Donaldson, could easily give Frazier one or two years at $10-15 million. He’s a great clubhouse guy and a veteran bat who’s good for 20 homers. Not a bad avenue for teams unable to work out a blockbuster for Kris Bryant or Nolan Arenado.”

R.J. Anderson, CBSSports.com: “Whether or not the Angels can work around this impasse to land (Mike) Clevinger is to be seen. We wouldn't bet on general manager Billy Eppler finding a way to get a deal done, however, due to his lackluster farm system and the demand for Clevinger from other teams -- including the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Angels' top geographical rival who can offer a better multiplayer package.  For the Angels to land another arm, they'll likely have to leverage their financial might. With few exceptions, Eppler lacks tradeable young talent. He doesn't have much choice about making an addition, either: The Angels need another starter if they're serious about contending -- and, lest there be any doubt after the Anthony Rendon deal, league sources have told CBS Sports that owner Arte Moreno wants to win and is willing to spend money to make it happen. Hence the Angels being tied to David Price, whose contract the Boston Red Sox would like to shed.”

MEGAPHONE

“It’s cheating. If you’re using a camera to zoom in on the crotch of the catcher, to break down the sign system, and then take that information and give it out to the runner, then he doesn’t have to steal it.”

• An unnamed player, to The Athletic, on the Boston Red Sox using their replay room to steal signals.


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Jeff Gordon is an online sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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