Could Yankees get bounce-back season from $25 million dollar veteran?

josh donaldson, yankees
Mar 18, 2023; Dunedin, Florida, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson (28) fields the ball for an out against the Toronto Blue Jays in the third inning during spring training at TD Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

One way or another, the New York Yankees will be paying Josh Donaldson $25 million for the 2023 season, whether they designate him for assignment or feature him as their starting third baseman on what hopes to be a World Series caliber roster.

Donaldson is coming off arguably the worst season of his career at 36 years old. Across 132 games, he hit .222 with a .308 OBP, 15 homers, and 62 RBIs with a career-high 27.1% strikeout rate and recorded a walk rate below 10% for the first time since 2012, his rookie season.

Even if Donaldson turns back the clock and manages to hit his career averages, that would still land at .265 with a .361 OBP, well above average numbers that represent 134 wRC+.

Unfortunately, at age 37, his best days are well behind him, but he’s doing everything in his power to reverse father time and offer the Yankees at least a portion of the value they were looking for when they acquired him from the Minnesota Twins last off-season.

In fact, Donaldson has made some significant tweaks to his batting stance recently, resulting in a two home run performance against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday afternoon.

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Josh Donaldson has tweaked his batting stance:

Based on the fact that Donaldson hit .247 with a .352 OBP in 2021, it is not crazy to think his averages will bounce back a bit, primarily if the change in batting stance provides any benefit.

This spring, he’s hitting .226 with a .314 OBP, posting three homers with seven hits over 31 at-bats. Prior to his phenomenal offensive performance against Detroit, he hadn’t hit the ball in two games, striking out three times over six at-bats.

One solid performance shouldn’t convince us of a resurgent season late in his career, but making minor tweaks could fuel growth in a few specific categories.

Donaldson‘s production isn’t solely connected to his stance but rather his confidence in the batter’s box and ability to take pitches. Experiencing a 6.1% increase in strikeout rate last year isn’t an anomaly, but the Yankees are clearly confident in his abilities coming off a gold glove calibrate season defensively on the hot corner.