While the rest of the baseball world tries to figure out where Bryce Harper is going to play in 2019, astute Nationals fans know an equally important question is where Anthony Rendon is going to play in 2020.
Eligible for free agency next winter, Rendon now faces the same dilemma Harper faced last winter. In Harper’s case, there was never a doubt he’d play out the season and test free agency. In Rendon’s case, the process might well be different.
The Nationals and Rendon have engaged in talks about a long-term deal on and off for the last year. And the star third baseman expects that to continue, acknowledging mutual interest in finding common ground.
“Obviously, they like me, so I guess that’s a good thing,” he said today at Nationals Winterfest. “It means I have been doing something right. But, yeah, I’m up for it. We’ve been talking about it over the last year or so or whatever. If we can both come to an agreement and both sides are happy, why not?”
It all sounds so simple, but of course it’s not. Rendon, who is represented by Scott Boras, is going to command a massive deal. And though he may not approach Harper in terms of total dollar amount or hot stove spotlight, he’s still going to ask for fair market value.
But if nothing else, Rendon has made it clear he’s open to talking. And the Nationals have made it clear they’re open to talking.
“I think we should, and I think we have, and I think we will continue to do so,” general manager Mike Rizzo said Saturday. “He’s a guy that we drafted, signed and developed, and he’s one of our own. He’s a terrific player that nobody talks about.”
Rendon may not get the attention he deserves from most of the baseball-watching public, but he’s never been underrated in Washington, where he has consistently been one of the best all-around players in the sport since his arrival in 2013.
The respect has been mutual. Rendon, who grew up in and continues to live in Houston in the offseason, has always spoke positively about D.C. and a Nationals organization that has invested plenty of time and dollars in him over the years.
“This is all I’ve known thus far,” he said. “They drafted me in 2011. That was a long time ago. So you know, just grown familiar with the place and you have a soft spot I guess for your hometown, your first team. So why not stick with one team? Like I said last year, these NBA players, they are getting heat for it. So maybe I got to stick with one team.”
Many players in this situation prefer to hold any contract talks prior to the season, perhaps even prior to spring training. Rendon, though, has never been one to get distracted by anything in life, so the prospect of playing through negotiations or the uncertainty of a contract year doesn’t appear to faze him one bit.
“Oh, it doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I mean, like I said, if we can come to terms that’s awesome. But if not, I’ll play the season and then we’ll see what happens in free agency.”