The regular season ended yesterday, and while more than a month remains until the offseason begins, free agency was surely on many people’s minds today. The thought of a star-studded free agent class that includes names like Gerrit Cole, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Anthony Rendon, and others was too exciting to put to rest.
However, one of those players has been rumored to sign an extension ever since the middle of the summer, when agent Scott Boras was seen at Nationals Park, reportedly interested in negotiating a long-term deal for his client, Anthony Rendon.
Now, we have confirmation that there is mutual interest in an extension. Of course, this isn’t a surprise, considering Rendon’s candidacy for National League MVP. But the confirmation came today nonetheless, in the form of a report from Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. Sources tell Svrluga that just this month, the Washington Nationals offered Rendon a seven-year extension north of $210 million in total, or $30 million annually.
Anthony Rendon is coming off an MVP-caliber season. He’s headed to free agency. The Nats are trying to keep him with an offer made earlier this month: seven years in the $210-215M range. https://t.co/4VhJ1u4CVl— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) September 30, 2019
The report implies that the extension was offered within the last month, so it seems likely the Nats’ offer stands should Rendon want to accept it. But that’s the problem. The star infielder hasn’t accepted yet, so it seems unlikely he would change his mind in the next four weeks he remains under contract for. Even more so, Scott Boras, baseball’s smartest agent and representative of baseball’s best stars, seems likely to convince Rendon to hold off on signing Rendon to an extension. If the Nationals want him that bad, their offer will exist in November. But waiting, of course, also allows the other 29 teams to pitch their cities, teams, and offers to Rendon, giving him the choice of the most remunerative deal.
It is also extremely important to mention that Svrluga’s report says the contract offer included some deferred money. It didn’t mirror their 2018 offer to Bryce Harper that saw “about $100 million in deferred salary, with the final payment coming in 2052.” Rather, their offer, according to Svrluga, was “structured similarly to the seven-year, $210 million deal the Nationals gave to Max Scherzer prior to the 2015 season. The deferrals are to be paid off within the seven years after the contract expires.”
There’s essentially no way Scott Boras would allow Rendon to sign a contract that includes nearly a decade of deferred money.
Anyways, Rendon could take a discount to stay with the Nats, but again, testing free agency can’t hurt. If the Nats are willing to spend $210 million on him now, they will certainly be up for doing the same in a month. And if Rendon impresses even more than he already has during the Nats’ postseason run, his value goes up.
In short, the Nats’ decision to offer an extension shouldn’t be ignored, but Rendon’s decision not to put pen to paper yet shouldn’t be looked into too much.
Rendon, 29, was originally selected by the Atlanta Braves in the 27th round of the 2008 draft, but he went to college and found himself being drafted by a different NL East team in 2011. This time, it was the Nationals, who used their first-round pick (sixth overall) on him. Drafted ahead of him were a few recognizable names: Gerrit Cole, Danny Hultzen, Trevor Bauer, Dylan Bundy, and Bubba Starling. Meanwhile, Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, and George Springer were all taken within five picks after Rendon went off the board.
Rendon made his big-league debut in 2013 and hasn’t really looked back since. In his first full season (2014), Rendon appeared in 153 games, leading the entire NL with 11 runs scored. That year, he finished fifth in MVP voting (the highest rank he’s seen so far, although that should change this winter) and won his only Silver Slugger award.
Fast forward to 2019. This season, Rendon led all of baseball with 126 runs batted in. He was named to his first All-Star Game this summer and should find himself in the top two or three in MVP voting. There’s even a case to be made for Rendon to be named MVP. In 146 games this season, Rendon slashed .319/.412/.598 with 117 runs scored on 174 hits, 44 doubles, 34 home runs, and 80 walks. Of those eight production categories, Rendon posted career-bests in all except two, coming up four walks and two hits shy of a straight sweep of all eight categories. Rendon also kept his strikeout total down to a respectable 86. He finished fourth in National League fWAR with a score of 7.0.
Rendon might go back to the Nats. He might not.
But one thing is for certain: Rendon is one of baseball’s best players and arguably the best impending free agent. He should draw lots of interest (and lots of money) this offseason.