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Josh Donaldson retires, reminding us of good and bad times

The Twins set a Major League Baseball record by hitting 307 home runs in 2019, earning the Bomba Squad nickname and winning 101 regular-season games.

But that season brought another quick playoff exit, extending their postseason drought. It seemed like pitching was their big need coming into 2020, but their signature offseason move was akin to dumping one ocean into another: adding power bat Josh Donaldson on a four-year, 92-million contract.

His competitiveness and grit were lauded as ingredients to help the Twins get over the postseason hump. But a lot of us at the time thought adding a 34-year player with an injury history was as much of a long-term risk as it was a short-term redundancy.

It's hard to know exactly how the move would have played out in the best of times because less than two months after the signing baseball was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Donaldson was limited to playing in just 28 of the 60 games in the shortened season and missed the playoffs when the Twins were swept again.

His signature moment that year might have been getting ejected after hitting a home run during a key September game. He was healthier and more productive in 2021, but the Twins faded. Before 2022, he was traded to the Yankees.

On Monday, Donaldson announced his retirement at age 38 — reminding us that in his own way Donaldson did play a role in helping the Twins finally break their postseason curse. I talked about that on Tuesday's Daily Delivery podcast.

When healthy, Donaldson was productive with the Twins. He hit 32 homers and posted an .829 OPS in 163 games in Minnesota. But his brashness played out differently among members of the organization, some of whom were relieved when he was traded after two seasons.

The timing was also critical. Donaldson slumped to a .682 OPS with the Yankees in 2022. Last year was even worse, with injuries playing a role, and he was eventually released before latching on with the Brewers.

While signing Donaldson to such a lucrative long-term deal might have been one of Derek Falvey's biggest missteps running the Twins, trading him when he did was among his best moves.

Had the Twins not been able to deal him before 2022, they probably would have been stuck with the entirety of his four-year, $92 million deal. And it's hard to imagine they would have been able to sign fellow high-priced infielder Carlos Correa shortly thereafter in 2022 or re-sign him in 2023.

Correa struggled for much of 2023, but he was absolutely clutch in the postseason — playing a critical role in the Twins snapping their 18-game losing streak and actually winning a series.

And Correa did it alongside rookie sensation Royce Lewis — a gritty third baseman with a different leadership style than Donaldson.