White Sox: How much does Donaldson impact AL Central?

Joshua Finkelstein
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 09: Josh Donaldson #20 of the Atlanta Braves hits a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fourth inning in game five of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 09, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 09: Josh Donaldson #20 of the Atlanta Braves hits a solo home run against the St. Louis Cardinals during the fourth inning in game five of the National League Division Series at SunTrust Park on October 09, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /
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The Minnesota Twins signing of Josh Donaldson is certainly going to have an impact on the AL Central race, but how much does this hurt the Chicago White Sox chances in 2020?

Donaldson, 34, is one of the premier players in baseball and there is almost no debating that.

However, it remains to be seen how much Donaldson changes the game in the AL Central as the White Sox look to contend for the first time in years.

The Twins’ biggest issue entering the offseason was really their starting rotation which really wasn’t addressed in the manner many fans of the team had hoped.

They re-signed Michael Pineda while they also signed Homer Bailey and Rich Hill to one-year deals.

Pineda, though, is set to be suspended for part of the season due to receiving a 60-game suspension after testing positive for Hydrochlorothiazide in September.

Meanwhile, relying on Hill to stay healthy is very risky given the southpaw is 39-years-old and hasn’t made 30 or more starts since 2007. In fact, he only made 13 for the Los Angeles Dodgers last season.

Bailey, 33, had a solid season in 2019, but had an ERA above 6.00 in each season from 2016-2018 with the Cincinnati Reds.

Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi are fortifying pieces at the top of the rotation, but relying on young arms like Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer to fill out the rotation in addition to Hill, Bailey, and Pineda is a little risky, to say the least.

Sure, Donaldson’s 15 DRS and 2.4 UZR at the hot corner are welcome additions for the pitching staff, but that doesn’t even come close to solving their pitching issues.

Adding a player that registered a 4.9 fWAR in 2019 is a major plus for any team, but the Twins issue this past year wasn’t their offense as they set a league record in home runs by a team in a season.

Donaldson likely just helps ensure that they won’t regress too far back offensively if some of their younger players can’t replicate their 2019 seasons.

The White Sox still have made more improvement this offseason and arguably will be the most improved team in all of baseball with Yasmani Grandal, Luis Robert, Edwin Encarnacion, Nomar Mazara, and eventually Nick Madrigal set to join the lineup.

Pitching wise, the White Sox also probably did more than the Twins as Dallas Keuchel is more of a sure-thing than Pineda while Gio Gonzalez could very well be better than Bailey and Hill combined. Michael Kopech‘s impending return could also alter the discussion completely.

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So, in essence, Donaldson definitely makes the Twins better in 2020, but the South Side shouldn’t be conceding the division yet.

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