Washington’s Nationals and their arbitration-eligible players have until Friday to exchange salary figures for the 2019 campaign.
The team and its players can, of course, still work out deals before, or after, those figures are submitted, avoiding arbitration hearings as the Nationals usually do.
New reliever Kyle Barraclough, starter Joe Ross, infielders Anthony Rendon and Trea Turner, and outfielder Michael A. Taylor are the Nationals’ remaining arbitration-eligible players after left-handed reliever Sammy Solis and the Nats agreed on an $850,000 deal for 2019 earlier this winter.
So ... is there any chance this is the week the Nationals announce an extension with Rendon that will keep the 28-year-old third baseman in the nation’s capital beyond 2019? He’s set to become a free agent after this season unless he and the Nats agree to a long-term deal that will keep him in D.C.
The Nationals and Rendon’s representatives are going to be talking anyway, so why not talk extension again?
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo told reporters at Winterfest in early December that he’d like to get an extension with Rendon done when he was asked if he’d push for a deal with the 2011 1st Round pick.
“I think we should, and I think we have, and I think we will continue to do so,” Rizzo 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.”
Rendon is coming off a .308/.374/.535, 44 double, 24 home run, 6.3 fWAR campaign, and he has now put up a combined .285/.361/.469 line and 25.8 fWAR in his six major league campaigns, accumulating the second-highest Wins Above Replacement among NL third baseman between 2013-2018, behind only the St. Louis Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter.
Rendon and the Nationals avoided arbitration last winter, agreeing to a 1-year/$12.3M deal on January 12th. MLB Trade Rumors is projecting a $17.6M salary for the third baseman in 2019.
Rendon too expressed an interest in getting a long-term deal done when he spoke with reporters at Winterfest, suggesting that the fact that there was even talk of an extension was a good sign.
“Obviously they like me so I guess that’s a good thing,” Rendon said. “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?”
“We’ve extended offers to Anthony and we haven’t had anything done yet,” Rizzo said at the Winter Meetings a few weeks later, “but certainly would be open to further discussions.”
“I think Anthony wants to be here,” Rizzo continued.
“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.”
Rizzo dismissed the idea that discussions of a long-term deal with Bryce Harper this winter would keep the Nationals from reaching an agreement with Rendon, or that they would be waiting to see what a deal with Harper would look like before talking to Scott Boras about Rendon, who represents both players.
“We’re not putting that stipulation on it. I don’t think they are,” Rizzo explained. “I think Scott deals with those two things independently.”
Asked if he thought it was possible that the Nationals could sign both Rendon and Harper to extensions, Rizzo said it was, though he doesn’t like dealing in hypotheticals.
“Like I said, those hypotheticals, we’d have to figure out what the deals look like, what the structure is, so there’s too much hypothetical to answer it, but we love both players, and we’d love to have both of them,” Rizzo said.
How much is going to cost the Nationals to work out something with Rendon?
Well, it is Boras they’re dealing with, and he talked at the Winter Meetings about Rendon being an MVP-ish player, so it could get expensive.
“He’s been really one of the top 10 players in the game for the last three or four years,” Boras said, 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.”
Could this active offseason for the Nationals, who’ve added two catchers to the mix (Kurt Suzuki and Yan Gomes), signed starters Patrick Corbin and Anibal Sanchez, brought back bench bat Matt Adams, and brought in two new relievers in Kyle Barraclough and Trevor Rosenthal, continue with deals for Harper or Rendon or both?