Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg got his first opportunity to speak publicly about his legacy deal with the club Tuesday at Nats Park. Strasburg also talked about the departure of Anthony Rendon.
“I was in contact with Tony,” Strasburg said. “I have so much respect for that guy and for that family and everything he represents. I just wanted him to be in a situation that was best for him and his family. I’m happy for him. I think that’s the way the game is, is that some guys might think that there’s a better solution out there, and it’s respectable. He’s earned that right.
“For me, I knew where I wanted to be and I trust that, moving forward, the team is committed to winning and that we want to go out there next year and keep going right where we left off.”
In the end, Rendon chose the Los Angeles Angels. So, now the Nats need a third baseman. General manager Mike Rizzo has been in contact with the top remaining free agent at that position, Josh Donaldson.
“We have interest in Josh Donaldson,” Rizzo said. “We’re in conversations with a lot of different people and (there are) a lot of moving parts, and he’s one of them.”
One way the club could answer that question mark at the hot corner is giving one of their top prospects, Carter Kieboom, a chance to compete for the spot in spring training.
“I think he’s very, very close to major league ready,” Rizzo said. “He’ll get an opportunity with other of our minor league players to try and make the club. If I feel he’s ready to make the club, and make an impact on the club, he’ll certainly get an opportunity.”
But Rizzo is not married to just one solution for replacing Rendon. Donaldson, Kieboom and the open market are all still in play.
“There’s a bunch of different ways to construct a roster,” Rizzo said. “We feel that we have great options, both internally and in the free agent market, and in the trade market. So, we’ll explore those like we do every year and try and construct a team that Washington could be proud of, and that gives us a chance to win another World Series.”
Strasburg’s top-of-the-rotation teammate Max Scherzer was in attendance at the press conference. He, too, has experience going through free agency, moving from Detroit to D.C. in 2015. He understands Rendon’s decision, even if he would have preferred the talented third baseman stay his teammate as well.
“You kind of get a little bit of everything, but at the end of the day, you kind of understand it,” Scherzer acknowledged. “You got to respect the process of what everybody has. I’ve been in that situation of being a free agent, and I understand the process and everything that goes into it. So, for Anthony, what he did for this organization the way he played, I got all the respect for what he can do as a baseball player and wish him the best.”