Former MVP Josh Donaldson heading to Braves on 1-year deal

Sep 17, 2017; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) celebrates his home run in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Josh Donaldson-Alex Anthopoulos reunion is complete.

The 2015 American League MVP, one of the Braves general manager’s signature trade acquisitions during his time with the Toronto Blue Jays, is heading to Atlanta on a one-year deal worth $23 million.

Donaldson missed 110 games last season due to a left calf injury while playing for the Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians. Even in his worst season since 2012, the 32-year-old third baseman hit 17 percent above league average by slashing .246/.352/.449 with eight home runs.

Once considered a top-tier piece of the oft-celebrated 2019 free-agent class, the one-year deal points to Donaldson’s desire to spend a year restoring his value to pre-injury levels. If Donaldson can turn back the clock, Anthopoulos just landed the right-handed protection for Freddie Freeman the lineup sorely missed at times in 2018.

From 2013 to 2017 — pre-injury Donaldson — only Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw accounted for more value. Even including his injury-shortened 2018 campaign, only Max Scherzer, who won three Cy Young Awards over that most recent six-year stretch, surpasses Donaldson’s 35.6 wins above replacement per FanGraphs.

The addition of an expensive third baseman puts the focus on Johan Camargo‘s future role for the organization after he’s turned in two strong seasons to start his career, hitting 10 percent above league average with 4.4 wins above replacement by FanGraphs’ estimation.

The team plans to slide Camargo into a utility role where he could move around from third base, second base, first base, shortstop and corner outfield. Camargo’s presence provides much-needed depth, insurance for Donaldson and a contingency plan for Dansby Swanson, Ozzie Albies and the corner outfield spot opposite Ronald Acuña Jr. Either way, for a team that entered the 2018 postseason with a severe lack of depth, adding Donaldson likely frees up another plus player alongside (currently) Charlie Culberson and the Brian McCannTyler Flowers catching platoon.

The move could also delay the arrival of Austin Riley, though a one-year contract should not dramatically alter whatever plans Anthopoulos & Co. already had for their top third-base prospect in 2019. Riley is expected to see outfield reps in spring training, adding to his versatility and potential 2019 value.

To clear room on the 40-man roster, Atlanta designated left-handed relief pitcher Adam McCreery for assignment.