Washington Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez was asked before the Nats’ NL Wild Card win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Tuesday night if he had thought at any point about a potential future in which the likes of 2011 1st Round pick Anthony Rendon, a potential free agent this winter, ‘09 No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg, who can opt out of his current contract after this and next season, and 2005 1st Rounder Ryan Zimmerman, who’s playing out the final year of his long-term deal with the team that drafted him with their first ever pick, might not be on the roster.
“I don’t think about that, I really don’t,” Martinez said. “And I know the boys aren’t thinking about that, they’re focused on today, so let’s get through today, win a game, and move on.”
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo didn’t want to discuss the rumored ongoing negotiations with the Nats’ third baseman when 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies asked on Wednesday about a Washington Post report that the club offered Anthony Rendon a seven-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $210-$215M, with less money deferred than in some of the other long-term deals the organization has offered in the past few years.
“We don’t talk about negotiations as they’re going on,” Rizzo told the Junkies, “but we made a clear and concise effort to keep Anthony in the organization for the long term.
“We’ll continue to do so because we want him here and we think he wants to be here. So we feel good about our chances that he’ll be a Nat. And I hope that — I’ll bet he is.”
Rendon, however, told reporters in LA, when he spoke about the upcoming matchup with the Dodgers, that the fact that last night could have been his last game with the Nationals had they lost, did cross his mind.
“Yeah, of course,” Rendon said.
“As the human aspect of it, you want to think about your future and you want to wonder what’s going to happen because nothing’s set in stone.
“But we have bigger fish to fry right now, so I can’t worry about that and I’ll just kind of let the cards play out how they fall.”
He did, however, set himself up well for free agency, if it comes to that, with a .319/.412/.598 line on the season, (career highs across the line), 44 doubles, which tied his career mark, 34 home runs, a career-best, a career-high 126 RBIs, and a career-best 117 runs scored in what ended up being a career-best 7.0 fWAR season.
So, Rendon was asked, did he do anything or change things in preparation for this season that had him thinking he could put up the numbers he did at the start of the year?
“Launch angle,” he said, in jest. “No. Yeah, I really don’t know.”
“I’ve been getting a lot of those questions lately, or at least this season. And I think if I actually knew, if I changed anything or if I knew if I was going to have this type of season, I actually would have done it a long time ago and I wouldn’t have waited six or seven years into it.
“But I think that, man, I say all the time, I think I’m partly, I’m getting lucky. A lot of my balls are falling and, obviously, putting up good at-bats or whatever you want to call it. But I’m getting broken bat hits, I’m getting flares, I’m trying to pull the ball to left field, and I’ll hit it off the end and it will trickle down the right field line, stuff like that. We talk about it in the clubhouse or in the dugout it’s like, of course, he has another one that falls. And there’s always that one player, those couple guys on the team that it happens to all the time. And when [Daniel Murphy] went on his run and he was hitting, like .350 the whole year, that was what he was doing. You’re like, that’s how you hit .350, you get infield hits or the outfielder falls down trying to run down a baseball. So Trea [Turner has] been getting on me a lot this year about that. So it’s been kind of fun to be on that end of it.”
His manager, Davey Martinez, offered his own thoughts on what’s led to Rendon’s success this season.
“I’ve said this before, from the other side, when I didn’t know him as well, just seeing him as a player, I always said the same thing, I said, ‘Man this guy is just Mr. Consistent.’ He puts the ball in play, has power to all fields, he’s not afraid. What makes him really good, I think, is that he’s not afraid to hit with two strikes. And he’ll battle you up there and hit the ball the other way. But when he gets to two strikes, there’s no panic. I think he has one of the best two-strike approaches in the game.”
Rendon put up good numbers against LA this season, going 7 for 25 (.280/.400/.400) with three doubles and four walks in the seven games between the two teams.
The last time the Nationals and Dodgers met in the postseason, in 2016, Rendon went 3 for 20 (.150/.190/.300) with a home run, a walk, and six Ks in 21 PAs. Does he try to block out a memory like that, of struggling in a series that ended with a loss in Game 5 in Nats Park?
“No. That’s in the past,” he said. “It happens, it happens. You think about your girlfriend that broke up with you like 20 years ago? Probably not. So, no.”
Against Game 1 starter Walker Buehler, Rendon is 3 for 6 with two doubles, a walk and a K in their respective careers. He was asked if there was anything in particular that’s resulted in his success against the righty?
“I really don’t know,” he said. “Oh, man, see ball, hit ball. I’m going to give you the same boring answer. That ball still has to go over the plate, depending upon which umpire is behind there ... and you got to try to hit it before it hits the catcher’s glove. I try to keep it simple. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”