WASHINGTON -- The Nationals already have perhaps the most high-profile free agent on the market in Bryce Harper, and the question of where he will sign his next contract is one of the most pressing in baseball. But another important question also looms for Washington, one high on its offseason
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals already have perhaps the most high-profile free agent on the market in Bryce Harper, and the question of where he will sign his next contract is one of the most pressing in baseball. But another important question also looms for Washington, one high on its offseason priority list this winter: Determining the future of third baseman Anthony Rendon.
Rendon is set to enter the final year of his contract in 2019, and if he reaches free agency, he will become one of the most sought-after players on the market. But throughout the past year, the Nationals have engaged in discussions with Rendon and his agent, Scott Boras, about a potential contract extension. And while the two sides have not obviously yet reached a deal, both said they were open to continuing those talks at the team's annual WinterFest event this weekend at Nationals Park.
"Obviously they like me, so I guess that's a good thing," Rendon said. "It means I have 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. If we can both come to an agreement and both sides are happy, why not?"
"I think we should [discuss it]. And I think we have. And I think we will continue to do so," added Washington general manager Mike Rizzo. "He's a guy that we drafted, signed and developed, and he's one of our own. He's a terrific player that nobody talks about."
That's exactly how the low-key Rendon would prefer it. His impending potential free agency has not garnered anywhere near the kind of attention as Harper because Rendon avoids cameras and hides from attention as if he were allergic to talking about himself. Rendon appears to value comfort and seems more similar in personality to right-hander Stephen Strasburg, another Boras client who worked out an extension with the Nats in 2016 before he hit free agency. Even though Rendon is not the type to relish the attention that comes with free agency, it does not mean he will accept a deal way under market value.
"Oh, it doesn't matter to me," he said. "I mean, if we can come to terms, that's awesome. But if not, I'll play the season and then we'll see what happens in free agency."
Rendon carries that sort of nonchalant approach in his everyday life. He has not yet been an All-Star despite twice finishing in the top six in the voting for the National League Most Valuable Player Award. He finished 11th this season after posting a slash line of .308/.374/.535 with 24 home runs, a 137 OPS+ and 6.3 Wins Above Replacement. Rendon would almost certainly have already won a Gold Glove Award at third base had he not had the misfortune of playing the same position in the same league as Nolan Arenado.
But the lack of accolades does not appear to bother Rendon, and neither would the idea of playing next season with an uncertain future. He has considered staying in Washington, and at some point again this offseason, he expects there to be more discussions about his future with the Nationals.
"I think just the fact that this is all I've known thus far," Rendon said. "They drafted me in 2001; that was a long time ago. So, you know, I've just grown familiar with the place and you have a soft spot I guess for your hometown, your first team, so why not stick with one team? Like I said last year, these NBA players, they are getting heat for it. So maybe I have to stick with one team."
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.