The fact that the Washington Nationals even considered him worthy of a long-term deal, Anthony Rendon said earlier this month, when he spoke to reporters at Winterfest in the nation’s capital, means something to the 28-year-old, 2011 first round pick.
“Honored I guess you could say,” Rendon explained when the possibility of an extension was brought up. “Start with that. Obviously they like me so I guess that’s a good thing.
“That means I’ve been doing something right, but yeah, I’m up for it.
“We’ve been talking about it over the last year or so or whatever, so if we can both come to an agreement and both sides are happy, why not?”
Coming off a .308/.374/.535, 44 double, 24 home run, 6.3 fWAR campaign in 2018, Rendon has now put up a combined .285/.361/.469 line and been worth a total of 25.8 fWAR in six MLB seasons, accumulating the second-highest Wins Above Replacement among NL third baseman between 2013-2018, behind only the St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter.
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters at Winterfest that the Nationals have been, and will be continuing to try to get something done with the third baseman.
“I think we should, and I think we have, and I think we will continue to do so,” he said.
“He’s a guy that we drafted, signed, and developed, and he’s one of our own, so he’s a terrific player that nobody talks about.”
“He’s got this quiet confidence,” Rizzo continued, “and this quiet competitive streak in him that very few people see.”
“I’ve always said this from the other side watching him play that he’s a really good player,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after completing his first year of managing Rendon.
“Now that I’ve got to see him play every day, he’s one of the best players in baseball, he really is.”
Rizzo was asked at the recently-completed Winter Meetings if he saw any parallels between Rendon and 2009 No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg, who signed on to stay in D.C. in the months before he hit free agency, agreeing on a 7-year/$175M in May of 2016.
Strasburg told his agent, Scott Boras, who represents Rendon (and a number of Nationals), that he wanted to stay in Washington, and the two sides worked something out.
Rizzo said this week he thinks Rendon wants to remain with the Nationals as well.
“I think Anthony wants to be here, I think he wants to be here long-term, and we want him here,” the GM said.
“And hopefully there’s a deal that transpires out of that good will between the two sides.”
Boras, in his his yearly press availability at the Winter Meetings, said Rendon has made it known he’s open to an extension that would keep him in D.C. beyond 2019.
“[Rendon] has made it known he’s open to listening to what the Nationals say,” Boras said, as quoted by NBC Sports Washington.
While the Nationals clearly know Rendon’s value to the team, he has continued to fly under the radar nationally in part because of his disdain for self-promotion, and in part because he has played alongside some higher profile teammates who get more attention.
“He has been in the top 10 players in the game for the last three or four years,” Boras told reporters.
“For Anthony, the recognition that he’s received for his performance has, for whatever reason, not been to the level of his talent, and just this offseason I think people are starting to really recognize what type of player he is.
“He’s really an MVP-type player, and certainly I think the Nationals are aware of who he is.”
While everyone involved ultimately acknowledged that Strasburg’s deal was player-driven, Boras said he hasn’t really discussed what Rendon wants to do with his client.
“I haven’t really discussed with Anthony what his intentions are,” Boras said. “I know that he has instructed me to listen to anything at all that the Nationals want to propose and discuss, and once I receive that information I’ll forward it to Anthony. Then he and his family will let me know what to do with it.”
Rendon earned $12.3M in 2018, after he and the Nationals avoided arbitration.
He’s arbitration-eligible again this winter, with MLBTraderumors.com projecting a raise to around $17.6M for 2019. So what would a long-term extension for Rendon look like?
Rendon was clear earlier this month that he’s not concerned about having the possibility of an extension (or free agency) over his head if he and the Nationals don’t agree on a deal to keep him in D.C. long-term before the start of the season.
“No, no, that’s out of my control,” he said. “The only thing I can control is one game at a time, so I’m worried about that.
“Shoot, I might pass away before the end of the season comes, our plane might crash or something. I’m worried about one thing...”
Ideally, would he like to get something done before Opening Day?
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Rendon said.
“Like I said, if we can come to terms, that’s awesome, but if not, then I’ll play this season and I’ll see what happens in free agency.”