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Rendon, Angels agree to deal

December 16, 2019

After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a 2014 Silver Slugger Award, a 2019 All-Star nod and three top-10 National League MVP finishes (2014, '17 and '19), Anthony Rendon is on the open market for the first time in his career. He is tied to Draft-pick compensation if

After a seven-season tenure with the Nationals that included a 2014 Silver Slugger Award, a 2019 All-Star nod and three top-10 National League MVP finishes (2014, '17 and '19), Anthony Rendon is on the open market for the first time in his career. He is tied to Draft-pick compensation if he signs with a new team after being one of 10 players to receive the $17.8 million qualifying offer (he declined the qualifying offer).

Below is a list of the latest news and rumors surrounding the 29-year-old third baseman.

Rendon picks Angels

Dec. 14: The Angels introduced Anthony Rendon on Saturday, after agreeing to a seven-year, $245 million deal with no opt-outs and a full no-trade clause. Rendon will unite with reigning American League MVP Mike Trout on an offense that will feature two of the best hitters in the game. Rendon noted how much owner Arte Moreno and his wife, Carole, made it clear they wanted him to join the franchise, and that it felt like family.

"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."

Rangers, Dodgers are 'main players' for Rendon

Dec. 9: While Rendon is expected to land a sizable contract this offseason, his market is relatively narrow at this point.

The Nationals may be interested in bringing Rendon back, but they have reached a record deal with Strasburg, according to a source, and managing principal owner Mark Lerner recently told NBC Sports that the team cannot afford both players. In the wake of Strasburg's agreement, Heyman tweets that the Nats don't have the same level of confidence in re-signing Rendon.

The Rangers and Dodgers appear to be the "two main players" for Rendon, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman said Sunday on "MLB Tonight."

Although the Phillies have been linked to Rendon, Heyman thinks they are on the periphery. Philadelphia remains in the mix for Josh Donaldson, too, but the club is wary of blocking No. 1 prospect Alec Bohm's path to the Majors, Heyman notes.

Are Dodgers willing to go to seven years for Rendon?

Dec. 8: The Dodgers have been one of MLB's most successful franchises for more than half a decade, winning seven consecutive National League West titles and making a pair of World Series appearances. They've managed to accomplish that without being major players at the top of the free-agent market. During Andrew Friedman's tenure as president of baseball operations, the club hasn't signed any outside free agent for more than the $55 million the club gave to A.J. Pollock last offseason, and the $93 million contract Clayton Kershaw signed last November is the largest deal Los Angeles has given to one of its own free agents.

But as MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal notes, the team could take a different approach this offseason.

"The Dodgers under Andrew Friedman, who took over in October 2014, have never been in this flexible of a payroll position," Rosenthal said Thursday on MLB Network's "Hot Stove" program. "They're well under the luxury-tax threshold. They've been under the last two years, so they've got their penalty rate reset to the minimum.

"So, in essence, they can do anything they want. That means Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon in the free-agent market, or one of the big trade pieces -- whether it's [Mookie Betts] or [Kris] Bryant or Francisco Lindor. … They have spent years -- literally, years -- trying to get into this position. … Why work toward this moment, and not seize it?"

Scott Boras represents Cole, Strasburg and Rendon, making for an interesting dynamic. In his Winter Meetings preview for The Athletic (subscription required), Rosenthal mentions a scenario that could allow Boras to maximize the value of each player, starting with Cole joining the Yankees and the Angels responding by ramping up their pursuit of Strasburg. Once those aces are off the board, the Dodgers might be more likely to aggressively target Rendon.

According to Rosenthal, officials from multiple teams pursuing Rendon confirmed that Boras is asking for seven-year offers for the third baseman. While the Dodgers may have balked at such a request in the past, "they are uniquely positioned to take on long-term commitments," Rosenthal writes, noting that L.A. has just $16 million tied up in 2022.

MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince goes as far as predicting that Rendon will indeed end up with the Dodgers, despite heavy interest from the Rangers.

Nats remain more confident in re-signing Strasburg than Rendon

Dec. 8: With the Winter Meetings set to get underway in San Diego, the Nationals' view of their free-agent situation reportedly hasn't changed. According to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman, Washington remains more confident it can re-sign Stephen Strasburg than Rendon. Per multiple reports, that has been the case for some time.

It was initially thought that the Nats were looking to bring back both players, but managing principal owner Mark Lerner told NBC Sports this past week that the team could afford only one of them.

Washington may be more likely to re-sign Strasburg, but that doesn't mean the right-hander's return is a lock. Many expected Strasburg to quickly work out a new deal with the Nats after opting out of his contract in November, but he's still a free agent.

In an article for The Athletic (subscription required) on Sunday, MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal outlined a scenario in which the Nationals don't end up with either player. In Rosenthal's scenario, Rendon lands with the Dodgers, and agent Scott Boras is able to maximize Strasburg's value by first negotiating a record deal for Gerrit Cole with the Yankees. Missing out on Cole in this hypothetical situation causes the Angels to ramp up their pursuit of Strasburg, a fellow Southern California native.

The Nationals are believed to have interest in free agent Josh Donaldson as a fallback option at third base, but it's unclear how they would proceed if Strasburg departs. Even without Strasburg, Washington's rotation is in solid shape with Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin and Aníbal Sánchez leading the way.

Lone Star return for Rendon?

Dec. 7: The Rangers are determined to add a star to help them open their brand new ballpark in 2020, and Texas native Anthony Rendon is high on that list. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes that the Rangers feel like they're "in a strong position" to sign Rendon after meeting with the National League MVP finalist earlier this week.

Sullivan cautions that Texas has not begun serious negotiations with Rendon's agent, Scott Boras, and obviously the Rangers are far from the only interested party for the star third baseman. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported Friday that the Phillies plan to "strongly pursue" Rendon, and the Dodgers and Nationals figure to be major players as well.

But Texas could be a club, similar to the Dodgers, that offers Rendon a shorter term contract with an extremely high average annual value -- an approach that might be uniquely tailored to Rendon, who has said in the past that he doesn't want to play baseball well into his late 30s. The Rangers are hesitant to go beyond a five-year contract for any free agent, Sullivan reports. Texas does have previous success with signing a big-name third baseman represented by Boras; the club landed Adrián Beltré in the winter of 2010-11, and he became a franchise icon.

Phillies reportedly have interest in Rendon

Dec. 6: After following up last offseason's bonanza by adding Zack Wheeler for $118 million over five years on Wednesday, the Phillies might not be done spending big money. According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, Philadelphia plans to "strongly pursue" Rendon and will consider Josh Donaldson as a fallback option. The Phillies have an opening at third base after non-tendering Maikel Franco.

Meanwhile, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman notes that the Phils have shown interest in Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, though the rotation may be less of a priority after the move to get Wheeler.

The team would likely need to go over the $208 million Competitive Balance Tax threshold to sign any of those players, but Nightengale doesn't think that will deter managing partner John Middleton.

Rendon is 'top target' for Rangers

Dec. 6: The Rangers have been linked to Rendon -- the top free-agent position player on the market and a Houston native, to boot -- since the start of the offseason. In case there was any question regarding how serious the Rangers are about pursuing the third baseman, Rendon is the club's "top target," according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.

"The Rangers see Rendon as a right-handed bat who can fit in the middle of their order for the next 5-7 years," Sullivan wrote. "He would be similar to what Adrián Beltré did during his time in Texas. Rendon’s presence could take some of the pressure off the Rangers' younger hitters. Texas needs starting pitching, but also feels that pitchers are more prone to health issues and have a tendency to decline over the course of a long-term contract. The Rangers see Rendon as providing more long-term value for their investment."

Texas' biggest needs are at the hot corner and in the rotation, but the signing of righty Kyle Gibson last month at least helped address the latter area to some extent.

The big question, then, could be how long the Rangers are willing to wait for Rendon, who is highly sought after, to make a decision. If that process drags on, it's possible Texas could turn to Josh Donaldson as an alternative.

Nationals owner says club cannot afford to bring back both Strasburg and Rendon

Dec. 6: The reigning champions may be preparing to lose at least one of their very best players, Stephen Strasburg and/or Rendon. Given that the former won MVP of the Fall Classic and the latter finished third in NL MVP voting, that's potentially a very big development this offseason.

"We really can only afford to have one of those two guys,” Nats owner Mark Lerner said to Donald Dell of NBC Sports Washington in an exclusive interview. “They’re [expected to sign for] huge numbers. We already have a really large payroll to begin with."

Per Roster Resource, the Nationals' payroll for 2020 was projected to be around $135 million before the club agreed to a one-year, $6.25 million contract with Howie Kendrick on Friday. In theory, re-signing Strasburg and Rendon -- both of whom could score north of $30 million per year -- would then push Washington's payroll close to $200 million, just under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $208 million.

Of course, the Nats did just win the World Series -- the franchise's first -- and should benefit financially from that (via ticket sales, merchandise, concessions, etc.), which could be a factor in the possibility of keeping both Strasburg and Rendon. Lerner's remarks, however, indicate otherwise.

For what it's worth, Lerner also commented last offseason that he thought it would be unlikely Bryce Harper -- the longtime franchise face -- would return to Washington. That proved to come true when Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies.

Nats could pivot to Donaldson after Winter Meetings

Dec. 3: The Nationals would like to bring back Rendon, but it doesn't appear as though the club is willing to wait around all winter. According to The Athletic's Jayson Stark, agents and rival execs who have spoken with Washington general manager Mike Rizzo say he wants an answer from agent Scott Boras "by the Winter Meetings or shortly thereafter."

If Rendon isn't ready to sign at that point, the Nationals are expected to move on to other options, including Josh Donaldson, per Stark.

The team took a similar stance with Bryce Harper last offseason, making him an offer in September and moving on to other business when Harper rejected it.

It's unclear if the Nats are willing to wait longer for Stephen Strasburg, another Boras client.

Dodgers reportedly met with Rendon, Strasburg

Dec. 3: Coming off a fantastic 2019 in which he earned both a third-place finish in NL MVP voting and a World Series title, Rendon is widely thought of as the best position player available in free agency. Typically, a player of that caliber doesn't sign early in the offseason, particularly when he's represented by Scott Boras, like Rendon is.

But things could play out differently with the 29-year-old third baseman. Put another way, Rendon actually might wind up signing sooner than later, especially considering he's already met with the Rangers and now the Dodgers, too, according ESPN's Buster Olney.

In light of that, some high-ranking team executives think Rendon "will be the first of the mega-dollar free agents to come off the board this winter," as Olney wrote.

If the Dodgers make a push for Rendon, the expectation is that incumbent third baseman Justin Turner, who has one year left on his contract, would shift to first base to free up third.

Aside from the Rangers and Dodgers, the Nationals -- who made a long-term offer to try to keep Rendon before the end of the season -- are among the clubs in play, per Olney.

Any team looking to improve at the hot corner -- and spend likely upward of $200 million -- also could be a fit, including the Phillies, Angels, Cardinals and Braves.

As for how the next seven years of Rendon's career might go, MLB.com's Andrew Simon took a shot at projecting the star's performance through 2026. The outlook? It's pretty promising.

The Dodgers also recently met with Strasburg, reports Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times.

Rendon has met with this AL West team already

Dec. 2: According to a report from the Dallas Morning News and confirmed by a source to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, Rangers GM Jon Daniels and other team officials met face-to-face with free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon and his agent Scott Boras in Houston on Sunday. The Rangers have also met with Zack Wheeler already, according to the same report. The Rangers appear poised to commit significant dollars in free agency this offseason, with a brand new stadium on the horizon for the 2020 season and the team's last playoff series win being back in 2011.

Rendon a longshot to leave D.C.? How much would the Nats give him?

Nov. 27: Rendon is the best hitter on the market, but many feel he'll be staying put in Washington to help the Nationals defend their World Series title in 2020. According to executives and other baseball insiders polled by ESPN, Rendon will get somewhere between $200 million and $280 million over seven to eight years as a free agent, with the voter predicting eight years and $280 million seeing him signing with the Rangers. Only two of the 15 individuals surveyed had Rendon leaving D.C. in free agency -- the other has him landing with the Cardinals. The lowest contract value predicted was a six-year, $200 million offer from the Nats.

Rangers could be in on Rendon 'until the end'

Nov. 26: The Rangers are expected to address their void at third base this offseason, and MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi thinks Texas is putting a high priority on acquiring either Rendon or Josh Donaldson in free agency. If the Rangers don't sign Donaldson, Morosi expects the club to be in on Rendon, a Texas native, "until the end."

Per Morosi, the determining factor in where Donaldson lands could be whether any team is willing to offer him four years. The Rangers might be more open than other teams to handing out such a deal after watching Adrian Beltre remain an elite player into his late 30s. Donaldson will soon turn 34 years old.

But if the Rangers don't want to go that long for Donaldson, Morosi doesn't think Texas will have an issue waiting out the Rendon market.

With their new ballpark opening in 2020, the Rangers are expected to be aggressive in improving the roster after missing the playoffs in each of the past three years. Texas hasn't won a postseason series since it made back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and '11.

What you see is what you get with Rendon

Nov. 24: Giving out a lucrative free-agent contract can be a leap of faith for a team, unsure exactly how that player's career will progress while on the team. But with Rendon, MLB.com's Sarah Langs writes, what you see is what you get. Rendon's expected stats over the last two seasons, including batting average and slugging percentage, indicate that he has been hitting as well as he's deserved -- in other words, he isn't getting lucky or benefitting from atypical plays. His unique combination of high power and a low strikeout rate make him unlike any other player on the market, too. In each of the last two seasons, no player has had both a lower strikeout rate and a higher hard-hit rate than Rendon.

Should Rangers make Rendon their cornerstone?

Nov. 22: The Rangers have a number of options they can pursue to address their void at third base, but in MLB Network insider Joel Sherman's view, the club doesn't just need someone productive to man the hot corner, it needs a franchise cornerstone as it prepares to open a new ballpark in 2020.

Playing the role of Rangers general manager, Sherman would make signing Rendon the team's top priority this offseason. There's seemingly a perfect fit between Rendon, a Texas native, and the Rangers, who had the third-lowest wRC+ (77) at third base in the Majors.

The club has been connected to Josh Donaldson, but Rendon is more than four years younger. Even if the team makes multiple additions this offseason, it might not be ready to seriously contend until 2021, at which point Donaldson will be 35 years old. And although Donaldson is a former American League MVP, he's not at Rendon's level at this point. While that means Rendon will be far more expensive, the Rangers don't have much in the way of future commitments.

Factoring in projected arbitration raises, Cot's Baseball Contracts puts the Rangers' 2020 payroll around $110 million. Although that figure is just $8 million shy of Texas' Opening Day payroll in 2019, the team is likely to increase spending. The Rangers had an Opening Day payroll of $133 million in 2018, and the expected revenue bump from their new stadium could allow them to spend significantly more than that. Looking ahead to 2021 and '22, the club has less than $50 million committed in each season.

Do Nats already have a Rendon replacement?

Nov. 19: The Nationals are still certainly in play to re-sign Rendon, but could the presence of top prospect Carter Kieboom make it more likely the Nationals part ways with their superstar third baseman?

Kieboom, a natural shortstop, also spent time at second and third base with Triple-A Fresno this past season. With 26-year-old shortstop Trea Turner under contract for three more seasons and Kieboom already getting his first taste of the Majors in 2019, the Nationals will likely need to find another spot to slot Kieboom into the lineup. While Kieboom could compete for the starting job at second in '20, Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post suggests that the 22-year-old could step into the full-time role at the hot corner if Rendon indeed signs elsewhere.

“Here’s the thing with Carter, and this won’t change: If he weren’t on a team with Trea Turner, who’s a premier shortstop at 26, that’s the position Carter would play,” general manager Mike Rizzo said, according to the Post. “But it turns out that he’s on a team with Trea, and we expect Trea to be with us for a long, long time. So we’ll just have to see where Carter fits.”

Rendon has already been tied to the Rangers (MLB.com's Richard Justice lists Texas as a team ready to make a leap in 2020, with the club expected to make significant additions) and Dodgers, as well as a possible return to the Nationals. MLB.com's Mark Feinsand has previously mentioned the Angels, Phillies and Braves as other potential suitors, while plenty of other teams figure to enter the discussion at some point.