As I noted in discussing him recently as an extension candidate, Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon remains an underappreciated star despite turning in another fantastic effort in 2018. That’s largely a reflection of his own preferences, of course, so it’s fascinating to see Rendon open up a bit in a chat with Dave Sheinin of the Washington Post. He describes himself as a lover of the game who is simply “not a fan of everyone treating you different because you play a sport” and only “want[s] to be normal.” (Indeed, he only took this interview to promote the Nats’ youth academy.) That’s not to say that Rendon isn’t interested in a lengthy career, but he clearly seems more concerned with the upbringing of a young family than maximizing earnings. He emphasized, too, that he’s not interested in turning over his professional direction to agent Scott Boras. What that all means for the future isn’t yet clear — from the team’s perspective, one official calls Rendon “an enigma” — but it’s undeniably relevant. Rendon is eligible for arbitration one final time this winter.
The article is essential reading for fans of the Nationals — or of other teams who wonder whether they might one day hope to cheer for the 28-year-old. In other chatter from the game’s eastern divisions …
- Speaking of hypothetical extension candidates, there aren’t many more prominent targets than Mets ace Jacob deGrom, who just wrapped up a season for the ages. Andy Martino of SNY.tv examines the situation, noting that the club will first need to resolve its front office before deciding how to proceed. Certainly, it still seems possible that a new contract or a trade could make sense, though it’s also conceivable that the Mets will simply work out an arbitration price. As for deGrom, Martino writes that he “wants to both win and be paid fair market value.” Of course, determining a market price is an interesting proposition, especially since we haven’t seen a pitcher of this quality in quite this contractual situation (two remaining control years) ink an extension in some time. Those interested in considering some recent major contracts can click here to find a list of starters who have signed extensions of $75MM or more in guaranteed money.
- The Rays obviously saw something to like in infielder Joey Wendle when they acquired him over the winter, but as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes, even they were surprised by his breakout showing in 2018. Senior VP Chaim Bloom explains that Wendle has been “even better than we expected” in most areas — in particular, at the plate — such that “the whole thing has been more than we could have asked for.” That seems fair to say, given that Wendle was acquired for a song and has been among the game’s best rookie performers (as we recently discussed here). It’s an interesting piece on a notable player that includes some quotes from some of Wendle’s former teammates in the A’s organization.
- In other Rays news, also via Topkin, principal owner Stuart Sternberg gave a bit of an update on the team’s stadium-building plans. The initial announcement, of course, wasn’t quite like the definitive ones we’ve seen from some other clubs in recent years. Presenting a vision was presumably aimed at the key aspect of the project that needs to be determined: funding. Sternberg says the club anticipates paying “well north” of a $150MM figure he has previously suggested. But the park project is estimated at $892MM, so there’s a gulf still to be bridged. In addition to working with municipalities, Sternberg says “corporate support is going to be paramount to all of this and that is still a work in progress as well.” The hope seemingly remains to resolve a direction by the end of the calendar year.