Time to make it two offseasons in a row that the Washington Nationals have lost one of their main offensive weapons in free agency as third baseman Anthony Rendon reportedly agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.
Rendon is coming off of the best season of his career, slashing .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs and 126 RBIs in 2019, all of which were career-highs which led to a third-place finish in the National League MVP voting. Oh, and he also won a World Series title to boot.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the two sides were in “active talks” earlier on in the evening before confirmation that Rendon was heading to California came from Jon Heyman.
Heyman also reported that the deal with the Angels was for seven years and $245 million.
With this deal, Rendon will team up with the best player in baseball in Mike Trout with the Angels, potentially vaulting them into contention in a competitive American League West.
Unfortunately for the Nats, things had been trending towards a departure after they secured the signature of Stephen Strasburg for a record-breaking $245 million two days ago.
With the right-hander back on board at a healthy $35 million annual average value, it was unlikely that the Nats would be in a spot to bring Rendon back while staying under the luxury tax threshold, even with Strasburg’s willingness to accept some deferred money.
While the luxury tax isn’t a salary cap, it seemed like the Nationals wanted to stay under it again. Managing principal owner Mark Lerner implied as such with his comment about how they could only afford one of the two franchise cornerstones.
For what it’s worth, it does seem as though the Nats were constantly in contact with Rendon’s agent, Scott Boras, this winter in an attempt to find a way to bring back the former first-round pick.
“We’ve had conversations about Anthony throughout the process,” Rizzo told reporters on Tuesday.
“I don’t get my daily update from Scott [Boras], but I don’t sense anything is imminent at this point, but that was a while ago, so you never know.”
So much for nothing being imminent then. It’s not for the first time with Rizzo either after a similar statement this time last year before pulling off a trade for Tanner Rainey.
The Nats must now turn their attention to other infield options, either with a like-for-like addition at the hot corner or with a second baseman, shifting Carter Kieboom to third.
That could happen relatively quick, as Rizzo alluded to on Wednesday evening in San Diego...
“I think we’re in a good spot,” Rizzo said, as quoted by Alyson Footer of MLB.com.
“We’ve been extremely busy this Winter Meetings, and I think we’ve set up a lot of different options and a lot of different avenues.
“We might not necessarily complete another deal in the next day or so, but we feel that we’re in position to improve our roster in a rather quick manner after the Meetings.”
Regardless of who they bring in, it’s going to be extremely tough to replace what Rendon brought to the team since his big league debut in 2013 but that’s the task they’re now facing.
It looks as though Anthony Rendon’s last act as a Washington Nationals player was helping the team secure the first World Series in franchise history. The team and its fans will hate to see such a talented player leave, but if a departure had to come, what a way to go out...
#Angels in active talks on Rendon, sources tell The Athletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2019
Rendon deal done with angels . 245M . 7 yrs.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 12, 2019