In a preview of the pitch interested teams will likely hear should Anthony Rendon reach the free agent market next winter, super-agent Scott Boras told reporters the 28-year-old third baseman has become one of the top players in the game over the course of his six seasons in the majors.
“He’s been really one of the top 10 players in the game for the last three or four years,” Boras said at the Winter Meetings last month, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“I think 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 of player. And certainly I think the Nationals are very aware of who he is.”
Rendon finished his 2018 campaign with a .308/.374/.535 line, 44 doubles, 24 home runs, 55 walks, 82 Ks, and 140 wRC+ in a 6.3 fWAR campaign. Defensively, the Gold Glove finalist ended the year with a .981 fld% (1st among qualified National League third basemen), the fewest errors among qualified third basemen (6), and -6 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), which was down from +8 and +7 DRS in the previous two seasons, respectively.
While Boras is saying he’s one of the Top 10 players in the game over the last three or four years, the MLB Network, looking at overall, “player performance over the last two seasons, offensive and defensive metrics, both advanced Statcast data and traditional numbers, and expert analysis by the MLB Network research team,” ranked Rendon as the fourth-best third baseman in the majors on this year’s list of the Top 10 Third Basemen Right Now!
“Over the past five seasons,” Mike Petriello (who had Rendon ranked 5th on his list) wrote in a feature on the Top 10 Third Basemen in the majors at MLB.com, “... he’s been healthy four times, and he’s been outstanding four times.”:
“[O]ver the past two seasons, he’s slugged .534, which is similar to Khris Davis or Nelson Cruz, except that instead of being a DH, he’s a strong defender at third base. He also upped his hard-hit rate from 38 percent to 45 percent, while dropping his ground-ball rate to a career-low 33 percent. All good signs.”
On Saturday’s MLB Network broadcast unveiling this year’s list, former MLB third baseman Mike Lowell praised the work Rendon has done to establish himself over the last few years:
“He’s [hit for power] two years in a row. Before it was like, ‘Well, he’s an above average All-Star caliber [player].’ Now he’s shown he has the capability of being an elite third baseman. I think he goes a little bit under the radar because Bryce Harper gets all the hype there in Washington. This year is gonna be especially interesting for me if Bryce Harper does not re-sign with the Nationals because then all that onus, all that dedication from the opposition’s pitchers is gonna be, ‘We cannot let Anthony Rendon beat us.’”
Rendon finished behind Colorado Rockies’ third baseman Nolan Arenado, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner, and Cleveland Indians’ third baseman Jose Ramirez, who was ranked No. 1 on the MLB Network’s list.
Rendon and the Nationals avoided arbitration last weekend when the two sides agreed on an $18.8M deal for 2019, giving the 2011 1st Round pick a raise from the $12.3M he earned last season after avoiding arbitration for the fourth straight winter.
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters at the Winter Meetings that he and Rendon’s reps had talked about a long-term extension previously and still hoped to work something out.
“I think Anthony wants to be here,” Rizzo said.
“I think he wants to be here long-term, and we want him here, and hopefully there’s a deal that transpires out of that good will between the two sides.”