With Josh Donaldson gone, Atlanta Braves should pivot to Nicholas Castellanos

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 30: Nicholas Castellanos #6 of the Chicago Cubs runs the bases after hitting his second two run home run in the 2nd inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on August 30, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

 

The 2019 MLB Comeback Player of the Year and Atlanta Braves fan-favorite, Josh Donaldson, signed with the Twins on Tuesday evening.

Atlanta Braves fans didn't receive the news they were hoping for about free-agent third baseman, Josh Donaldson.

It was announced on Tuesday night that Donaldson had signed a four-year deal with the Minnesota Twins valued at $92 million dollars with an optional fifth year. That option could bring the total amount of the contract to $100 million.

This move leaves a huge hole in the Braves lineup as Josh was a dependable clean-up hitter for Atlanta in 2019. He gave Freddie Freeman protection in the lineup that he hasn't had in years.

Now Alex Anthopoulos and the Atlanta front-office must consider new options for filling such an important role with Spring Training just one month away.

You can be assured that they never stop working and have probably begun searching for replacements long before this deal was announced.

There are only three options the Braves will be able to explore in the coming weeks. They'll sign a power bat in free agency, make a significant trade to fill the void or settle for the combination of Johan Camargo and Austin Riley.

All three are viable options for Atlanta and could help the team in different ways.

Trading for a significant player like Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant would definitely be the most attractive option but those deals are not likely to happen as easily as we'd like. There's a lot of uncertainty that this will occur.

Camargo and Riley are decent options defensively but their offensive abilities have been so up and down, you can't confidently say that it would be the easiest decision, which leads me to the final option of signing a free-agent.

It's long been said that the Braves have kept tabs on players like Nicholas Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna in the case that Donaldson didn't re-sign. Well, that time has come.

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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Making the Case for Castellanos

While I think Ozuna is a fine player, I don't believe he is the right fit for Atlanta. He does want a lengthy contract and the Atlanta Braves haven't shown a willingness to go past 4 years for any player.

Ozuna also has mentioned wanting to return to St. Louis if they will have him back. So, that leaves Castellanos as the most attractive power bat available on the market.

But Steven, I can hear you screaming at me already, Nicholas Castellanos' defense is absolutely atrocious!

Castellanos produced a -4.4 UZR and -9 DRS in right field over the course of just over 1,000 innings. In left field, he accumulated a -0.8 UZR and 0 DRS across 35 innings of play.

Not great but an improvement of his numbers from 2017 and 2018. His offense is clearly what drives his value in the league.

Now, I know his defensive skills aren't much to write home about but in the grand scheme of things, Atlanta needs a right-handed power bat to place behind Freddie Freeman in the lineup. I think they'd look over the sub-par defense that he possesses.

Castellanos slashed .289/.337/.525 between Detroit and Chicago in 2019. His OPS was pretty good at .863 with a respectable 27 home runs and 73 RBI.

He does strike out more than you'd like but he's a prototypical power hitter in the modern era of baseball -- you come to expect that now. However, his on-base percentage was pretty decent for a guy that strikes out that often.

Now, Adam Duvall fits that description as well, but his consistency has yet to be found as a Brave.

If you need a defensive replacement in the late innings to hold a lead, Duvall is a fine option to plug in as his defense is much better. This move would also give the Braves a viable bench bat in the form of Nick Markakis.

So it could help strengthen the club in other ways and fill a need at the same time. Is it an ideal situation to be in? No, definitely not. However, we have the right front office to deal with this situation.

They are constantly looking at ways to improve and they'll get us to where we need to be come Opening Day.

However, to knab Castellanos they'll have to move quickly and beat out the Rangers who have been noted to be in "active" pursuit of his services in recent days.

Next: What prospects could be on the move

This will be a defining moment of the offseason for the Atlanta Braves and Alex Anthopoulos.