Angels unveil newest superstar Rendon

December 16th, 2019

ANAHEIM -- With his wife, Amanda, by his side and his 16-month-old daughter, Emma, in his arms, made it clear at his introductory press conference on Saturday at Angel Stadium that family played a pivotal role in choosing to sign with the Angels.

Rendon, who officially inked a seven-year deal worth $245 million with no opt-out and a full no-trade clause, said he got a sense for the Angels family after hearing how much owner Arte Moreno and his wife, Carole, wanted Rendon to join the franchise. Moreno told agent Scott Boras in a one-on-one setting on Sunday that Rendon was one of his favorite players and that signing him was a priority, which came as a surprise given the Angels' need for pitching and their interest in right-hander , who ultimately agreed to terms with the Yankees on Tuesday.

"The fact that Arte and Carole were adamant about reaching out to Scott and saying that they really wanted me to be a part of the Angel organization means so much to me and my family," Rendon said. "To have that respect, to feel wanted and to want someone to come and be part of your family. That was the one important thing we always talked about when trying to look for an organization we wanted to head to or stay at was a family atmosphere. Somewhere we can plant our roots, build a foundation and just grow our family together."

Rendon, a Houston native, said he was initially reluctant to sign with a team from Southern California, but after spending more time in Orange County, he found it to be much different than the vibe in Los Angeles, as he prefers to lead a low-key and private lifestyle with his family. The 29-year-old said it was a reason why he didn't consider the Dodgers as seriously as the Angels.

"I think when people think about California, they think of the straight Hollywood, that glamour lifestyle, whole bunch of flashes and so much paparazzi," Rendon said. "But everyone just said it's the complete opposite down here."

Rendon's production, however, speaks for itself, as he was the top position player available in free agency and he has long been one of the game's underrated superstars. Boras was quick to point out that only two position players in baseball have registered at least six Wins Above Replacement in each of the last three seasons, and that it's just Rendon and his new teammate Mike Trout.

"[Rendon is] someone that embodies a lot of the characteristics we like in our players," general manager Billy Eppler said. "When he's playing the game, he's calm and cool and just very measured. He doesn't get too high and doesn't get too low. He's obviously an impact player so we're happy to get him here."

Moreno explained he's long been a fan of Rendon, even dating to his college days at Rice University from 2009-11, as Moreno's friend was the athletic director at Rice. The Angels were in on both Stephen Strasburg and Cole, but once they both signed elsewhere, the Rendon deal came together quickly in less than 24 hours after Cole agreed to sign with the Yanks.

"I had the name early and then watched him with Washington," Moreno said. "Really what he can do, historically, the way he's played, his background, just really felt it would be a great fit for what we're trying to accomplish here."

Rendon, fresh off winning the World Series with the Nationals, was brought in to help the Angels in their quest to reach the postseason for the first time since 2014. Rendon slashed .319/.412/.598 with 34 homers and an NL-leading 126 RBIs in 146 games with Washington last season while also playing elite defense at third base.

Rendon, though, said part of the reason why he signed was because he was told the Angels are still looking to add more pieces this offseason, especially with the rotation and at catcher. Eppler said they could add up to two more starting pitchers, but likely not two free agents, as one would have to come via trade in that scenario.

But the Angels do have some payroll flexibility even after signing Rendon, as he reportedly has a backloaded contract that will pay him $25.5 million in 2020, which is almost $10 million below his annual average value of $35 million. It means the Angels are roughly only $10 million over last year's payroll and have roughly $40 million-$45 million before they hit the projected luxury tax, per Cot's Contracts.

The Angels remain interested in free agents such as Hyun-Jin Ryu, Madison Bumgarner and Dallas Keuchel, while they have also been mentioned as potential trade candidates for Boston's David Price and Arizona's Robbie Ray.

"There is still some room for us to be able to operate," Eppler said. "One of the things we have to look at is how it impacts the payroll this year and if it's a longer-term deal how it manifests in the '21 and '22 seasons. We are still able to engage in this marketplace and see where this takes us."