Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon is slated to become the best position player to hit free agency in the upcoming offseason. He might not reach the open market, though. Nationals owner Ted Lerner and Rendon’s agent, Scott Boras, are discussing an extension for the All-Star, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com reports.
Boras was at Nationals Park on Saturday – an indication of how serious negotiations have become, Zuckerman observes. The two sides have talked about a new deal for Rendon on and off for a while now, though they haven’t been able to bridge the gap thus far. Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post reported earlier this week there hadn’t been much progress between the team and player, noting Rendon’s likely seeking a pact in the range of the seven-year, $234MM extension Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado signed before the season.
Rendon’s trophy case is nowhere near as full as that of Arenado, who has earned five All-Star trips and six Gold Gloves, among other awards. Nevertheless, Rendon has been one of the majors’ premier players in his own right. Rendon, whom the Nationals chose sixth overall in the 2011 draft, debuted in 2013 and has since slashed .286/.363/.482 (125 wRC+) with 122 home runs and 29.0 fWAR in 3,597 plate appearances. Only 11 position players have bettered Rendon in the fWAR department dating back to his first at-bat, and he’s now enjoying his top season yet. On the strength of a .304/.388/.612 line (150 wRC+) with 20 homers in 320 PA, Rendon finally picked up a long-overdue All-Star nod.
Now, having lost Bryce Harper to free agency last winter, the Nationals don’t seem prepared to let yet another homegrown superstar depart. Harper’s also a Boras client, but even though the team was unable to retain the outfielder, its ownership is known to have a positive relationship with the super-agent.
Along with Rendon, four of the Nationals’ other players are Boras clients, including high-profile starters Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. Washington signed Scherzer to a seven-year, $210MM contract in free agency entering 2015. The club then handed Strasburg a seven-year, $175MM extension in May 2016, when he was just a few months from potentially testing the open market. The Nationals may now follow suit with Rendon.