Now that Stephen Strasburg has been re-signed to an expectations-shattering $245MM contract, it doesn’t seem like the Nationals could manage another mega-deal to bring back Anthony Rendon…or could they? Both Nats GM Mike Rizzo and agent Scott Boras (who represents both Rendon and Strasburg) told MASNsports.com’s Mark Zuckerman and other reporters that the third baseman could still potentially return to Washington, despite owner Mark Lerner’s recent comments about his club not being able to afford both free agents. “Well, when you look at those comments, and then you look at the structure of this particular deal and the structure of deals we’ve had getting up to where we are right now, I think that Mark realizes that there’s ways to fit players in,” Rizzo said, in reference to the deferral-heavy nature of both Strasburg’s contract and several other major Nats contracts in recent years.
Boras also spoke of how Strasburg “directed me to negotiate and create a value, a fair-market value for him, but also a structure that allowed the team to continue at a championship level.” Naturally, it wouldn’t be good business for Boras to create any impression that a wealthy suitor had dropped out of the running for Rendon, though the fact that he has had such a long history of negotiating deals with the Nationals perhaps gives his comments some added weight. “I think when you go to do these contracts — in fairness to Mark and everyone else — is you really don’t know what can be done inside a contract to create opportunities so that aspects of the team can be looked at a little differently than was even anticipated,” Boras said.
More rumblings from around the NL East…
- Not that a World Series-winning manager should necessarily be worried about job security, but Dave Martinez tells NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas that he isn’t concerned about entering the final guaranteed year of his contract. The Nationals hold a club option on Martinez for the 2021 season, though just making through 2020 would make Martinez (somewhat incredibly) the first person to manage three full seasons for the Nats since the club moved from Montreal prior to the 2005 season. Martinez didn’t give any indication of extension talks, though even with the Nationals’ unusual history of managerial hirings and firings, it looks like stability might have finally come to the dugout.
- Yoenis Cespedes is hoping to return to the field in 2020, and Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen told reporters (including MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo) that the outfielder has begun throwing and running programs. A series of leg injuries forced Cespedes to miss the entire 2019 season, and limited him to just 119 games in 2017-18. Naturally, Van Wagenen was cautious about the possibility of a comeback for the outfielder, saying “We have to be smart and not assume anything from anyone and try to create talent on our roster and try to create impact. If he’s at his best, he’s a high-impact performer. We’ll have to see how that plays out.”
- In other news from Van Wagenen’s media briefing, he said finding depth for both the rotation or bullpen is a main focus for the Mets. The club may also look at adding a backup infielder and backup catcher. The latter could spell some trouble for current backup catcher Tomas Nido, who was one of the game’s better defensive catchers in 2019 but hasn’t shown any hitting prowess during his three MLB seasons (albeit over only 244 career plate appearances).
- The Marlins have hired Billy Hatcher as the team’s new first base coach, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. Hatcher brings 21 years of coaching experience to Miami, after long stints with both the Rays (1998-2005) and Reds (2006-18). Trey Hillman will move from first base coach across the diamond to coach third base next season, to accommodate Hatcher. In other Marlins staff news, assistant hitting coach Eric Duncan has been promoted to hitting coach.