As current Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon looks to finish out his 2019 season with a World Series ring, the superstar hot corner specialist is going to be one of the hottest commodities on the free agency market this winter. With a copious amount of suitors wanting to shell out the big bucks to the best third baseman on the market, it remains to be seen where Rendon will be suiting up in 2020.
Having only seen time with the Nationals in his entire career, Rendon could become the next superstar in consecutive offseasons to leave the Nats and go somewhere else for what is thought to be greener pastures. With Bryce Harper lining up across the diamond with the Philadelphia Phillies now, it will be interesting to see if Rendon leaves, and if he does, goes out of division or remains in the National League East and wrecks havoc on the Nats for many years to come.
Rendon has been one of the team’s main catalysts, both on offense and defense, for their first-ever World Series run in 2019. Playing superb defense and coming to the plate with the clutch gene activated at all times, whichever team secures Rendon’s services for the next five-plus seasons is getting an absolute stud of a player who has never complained or truly spoken out about any shortcomings of his team and subsequent roster.
While each and every team could easily fit him into their starting lineup, there are a select few who would represent better fits than others – here are four of the best team fits for Rendon going forward.
His impact on this Nats team has been nothing short of franchise-altering, but his arbitration eligibility has run out after the 2019 season, which means that his true value on the market will skyrocket immensely and turn into a bidding war for all interested teams. During last year’s free agency period, the team showed how hesitant they were to pay Harper and actually offered him a hugely-deferred deal that would have acted more as a pension than as a contract.
While Harper turned that putrid offer down, the same result may not be in the cards for Rendon, simply because the team has had a full year to understand how they mishandled that and how to move forward and not mess up this situation. By losing both Harper and Rendon, their pitching staff becomes the strongest area of this team, supported by their young outfielders and an infield devoid of a superstar, although Trea Turner has looked to be turning the corner at times.
Pony up from their reported $210 million offer that was turned down by Rendon mid-season, and then things should be peachy. But if they decide to play the same financial games that resulted in them losing Harper to their divisional rival, then things could get sticky yet again.
Their familiarity with Rendon and the Nationals being the lone team that Rendon has played for truly does work in their favor. However, Anthony Rendon and his agent both understand how this business works, and the player has the upper hand in these high-leverage negotiations, which can only mean bad news for the Nationals.
The likelihood of Rendon resigning with Washington looks to fluctuate on a daily basis, but it most likely has decreased ever since he turned down the reported extension offer. Washington would be smart to throw whatever they possibly can at Rendon in hopes that he will give them some sort of a hometown discount, but praying for that is like praying for rain in Arizona.
Will it actually happen again? Will a division rival scoop up another superstar from the Nationals?
If it happens, there really is only one acceptable and realistic candidate – the Atlanta Braves.
Built upon a cheap payroll, young studs locked up on long but cheap deals, and a few veteran presences sprinkled throughout the team in the right amounts, the Braves are building themselves to be a long-term postseason contender and a threat to the rest of the NL. Even with Austin Riley primed to slide in and take over the starting third baseman role, he could become expendable in a trade if the team was looking for a bit more starting pitching.
But what about Josh Donaldson, you may ask? Well, obviously if Donaldson resigns, this does not happen – but with the type of money-conscious decisions this franchise has been making lately, investing $200+ million in a 29-year-old Rendon may ultimately be a better decision than putting $50+ million towards the 33-year-old Donaldson.
A Freddie Freeman – Ozzie Albies – Dansby Swanson – Rendon infield would become an absolute offensive juggernaut, and with the defensive skills of each player, they could become the NL infield with multiple Gold Glove awards tied to it as well.
Moneywise, this team has shown that it is willing to give out deals, but they have not yet ventured into the realm of what Rendon is looking for – what better time than now?
As is the case with any sort of big-ticket free agent, the New York Yankees are not too far behind in the chase. After being snuffed out in their rumored chase of Nolan Arenado when he decided to resign with the Colorado Rockies mid-season, their attention now turns to Anthony Rendon.
With Gio Urshela manning the hot corner at the moment, his resurgence has made the need for a third baseman less pertinent – but not non-existent. When a talent like Rendon comes around, certain players can justify teams making moves even if they are mostly set at the position.
The Yankees are notorious for their expensive past, present, and future, and with the opportunity to sign Rendon for $200+ million, they have a great opportunity to continue down that path. Even with Giancarlo Stanton taking up a ton of money and Didi Gregorious slated to leave town, Rendon takes center stage for this team and should be NYY’s first priority this offseason.
Wild Card – Los Angeles Angels
December 8, 2011 – the day that Albert Pujols signed his 10 year, $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels.
December 8, 2011 – the day that the Los Angeles Angels stopped adding big-time pieces (outside of Shohei Ohtani) to help Mike Trout make the playoffs.
A truly disappointing franchise that has time and time again failed to live up to expectations, the Angels have a chance to reverse all of that bad juju and make good on Trout’s long-term deal that he recently signed. With this deal, it looks like he will spend the remainder of his professional career with the Angels, which is more than they probably deserve with how they have treated the rest of the roster around him.
Rendon has never looked to be the guy that is searching for big-time money or a large market to showcase his talents in – the Angels, while on the west coast and in a primetime market, can offer those things, but in a smaller setting – but would be a great fit for the Angels.
The perfect opportunity does not commonly come around for teams that wait, but for the Angels, this may be the best and only time that they can make that type of impact addition like Anthony Rendon to help out this team in the long run. A lot of money, obviously, but to make Trout happy, is there really a price tag on that?