Anthony Rendon officially was introduced by the Angels on Saturday, donning a familiar red cap but with a halo surrounding a big A instead of the curly W he wore the last seven seasons.
Yeah, it’s going to take some time to get used to that image.
As Rendon explained to reporters during his first news conference on the West Coast, it was the persistence of Angels owner Arte Moreno - who pulled agent Scott Boras aside last Sunday and made it clear he wanted the star third baseman to come to Anaheim - that swayed him.
“Arte and (wife) Carol were really adamant about reaching out to Scott and saying they wanted me to be a part of the Angel organization,” Rendon said. “That meant a lot to me and my family, to have that respect, to really feel wanted. That was one important thing that we always talked about trying to look for in an organization where we wanted to head to or stay at, was a family atmosphere, somewhere that we could plant our roots in, lay a foundation and just grow our family together.”
Why didn’t that happen in Washington, where Rendon made his major league debut in 2013, blossomed into one of baseball’s best all-around players and then was instrumental in the Nationals’ run to their first World Series title two months ago?
Rendon admitted he was still thinking about re-signing with the Nats and had been in contact with Stephen Strasburg, who tried to sell his teammate on the idea of staying, even though it would have required a willingness to include deferred money in his new deal.
“We kind of kept that door open always,” said the third baseman, who is scheduled to face his former team May 11-13 in Anaheim. “But we just couldn’t come to an agreement.”
In the end, Rendon accepted a seven-year, $245 million offer from the Angels that included zero deferred money, a no-trade clause and salaries that escalate over time. According to the Orange County Register, Rendon’s salary will be $25.5 million in 2020, then $27.5 million in 2021, $36 million in 2022 and $38 million annually over the contract’s final four years. He also gets a $4 million signing bonus, bringing the average annual value of the whole deal to $35 million.
Rendon also was pursued by the Rangers and Dodgers, but neither of those organizations appealed to him the way the Angels did. That was especially true of Los Angeles, which may be geographically close to Anaheim but felt like an entirely different world to the 29-year-old.
“Not necessarily we didn’t want to play with them,” Rendon said. “It was always a team we thought and would consider just because the Dodgers are always in the postseason, they have a terrific team, they are built to win, they have a lot of great guys coming up in the organization.
“But in terms of just the way that we’ve heard about how the organization is, whether it’s the Hollywood lifestyle or whatnot, it just didn’t seem like it would be a fit for us as a family. Nothing against them as an organization. We still loved meeting with them. We loved having those conversations. But in the end it was what we thought was best for our family.”
Nationals fans who watched the attention-averse Rendon shun the spotlight as much as he could over the last seven seasons won’t be surprised by that answer.