Damn it. Max Scherzer was right. Again. As soon as Bryce Harper signed, agreeing on a 13-year/$330M deal with the Philadelphia Phillies on March 2nd, after two-plus years and the innumerable questions about where he’d land, the talk quickly turned to Anthony Rendon, and the third baseman’s future in Washington, D.C.
Rendon is, of course, the next potential free agent the Nationals are discussing signing to a long-term deal.
If he and the Nationals, who have been discussing an extension for some time now, cannot agree on a deal before next winter, the 28-year-old infielder, who turns 29 in June, will be a free agent, able to negotiate with all 30 teams instead of just the Nats, who have until then to talk exclusively about a contract with their 2011 1st Round pick.
GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies after Harper signed with Philly, that they had tried to work something out with the 2010 No. 1 overall pick before he was able to negotiate league-wide.
“Our thought process was this,” Rizzo explained, “... we wanted to keep [Harper], and so our strategy was we have exclusivity to negotiate with him until the first day of free agency and then he becomes a free agent to everybody. So we felt that our best way to not only try and lock him down but to then know what the landscape looks [like] going forward as far as the offseason, who we can go after and that type of thing, what our financials look like like, our best chance to do that was to try and sign him before the free agent deadline.”
Rizzo and Co. in the Nationals’ front office talked with Harper and his agent, Scott Boras, as free agency approached, extending what was reportedly a 10-year/$300M offer (which had, according to Harper himself, $100M deferred until the now 26-year-old outfielder was in his 60s) before the end of the regular season, which was turned down.
Boras, of course, represents Rendon as well, though the infielder made it clear recently that the agent works for him, and he’s making the decisions about what he wants to do.
“The thing is, what everyone has the misconception of is, they think that we work for Scott,” Rendon told reporters in West Palm Beach, Florida last month, as quoted by the Washington Post’s Jesse Doughtery.
“That’s not the way it works. I’m telling him how it’s going, and you can ask him. We’ve gotten into some jibber-jabbers before, too, so like, I’m paying him. Nah, that don’t fly with me.”
“I work for Anthony,” Boras told the WaPost reporter that week.
“He makes all the decisions and has directed me to listen and work with the Nationals regarding any contract discussions they choose to advance.”
Apparently the latest offer the Nationals chose to advance, wasn’t quite what Rendon is looking for at this point.
NBC Sports Washington reporter Todd Dybas talked to Rendon this week, and quoted him in a post on Wednesday morning saying that another offer was extended late last month.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported back in early January, that at the time his sources told him Rendon was, “seeking a deal comparable to the seven-year, $163.5 million contract the Astros awarded second baseman José Altuve before the 2018 season.”
But did that change when the Colorado Rockies signed Nolan Arenado (a good comparison for Rendon, though more highly-regarded) to an 8-year/$260M contract that keeps the third baseman from hitting the free agent market next winter.
How about 24-year-old Houston Astros’ third baseman Alex Bregman’s 6-year/$100M deal?
According to what Rendon told the NBC Sports Washington reporter, another offer from the Nationals came shortly after the Arenado deal was announced.
“We’ve had some talks in the past,” Rendon told NBC Sports Washington. “I think it’s kind of come to a halt lately. They had an offer out there [around the time of the Arenado deal]. It wasn’t to where we thought we should be. They said we’re going to continue to talk.”
Arenado’s deal, of course, came before Harper’s deal, and before the Angels locked up their own star, Mike Trout, to an enormous 12-year/$426M deal.
“If [an extension] happens, it happens, if it doesn’t it doesn’t,” Rendon said of a potential deal with the Nationals.
The Washington Post’s Dougherty too spoke to sources who confirmed NBCSW’s reporting, noting that he too heard that, “The Nationals’ offer, terms of which were not disclosed, was rejected by Rendon and his representation.”
Rizzo told reporters last week, as quoted in the WaPost, that he would continue talking with Rendon.
“I’ll talk to Anthony about being here for as long as he wants to talk about it,” Rizzo said, reiterating what he has said about how he’d like to keep Rendon, a player the Nationals drafted in the first round in 2011, in the nation’s capital if the two sides can agree on an extension.
Do you think the the Nationals and Rendon will eventually work something out? Will Rendon end up becoming a free agent market next winter?