Throughout spring training, Washington Nationals fans have kept an eye out for an Anthony Rendon contract extension. What is the latest on the situation?
Although Rendon has said he doesn’t mind talking about an extension during the season, one would figure that the club’s best shot at an extension is before the season.
We don’t know what each side is asking for, but there are a couple of assumptions that we can make.
From the Nationals perspective, they are probably trying to include deferrals, which has become almost standard practice in contract negotiations. The Nationals even deferred $4 million of Anibal Sanchez’s $19 million contract.
As for Rendon, he’s sat back and watched his price tag go up over the course of the winter. At the beginning of the offseason, Ken Rosenthal reported that Rendon and Scott Boras were eying an extension that would come close to Jose Altuve’s 7-year $163.5 million contract.
Since then, Rendon has watched Nolan Arenado sign an extension with the Rockies which added seven years and $234 million in new money, with a $33.4 million AAV. On top of the Arenado extension, Alex Bregman reached an extension with the Houston Astros for 5-years and $100 million.
At first glance, that number seems light for one of the premier third basemen in the league, but it’s important to note that the extension covers his final three arbitration seasons and just two free agent seasons.
The number from Bregman’s extension that matters is $28.5 million, which is the amount he’ll earn for his two “free agency” seasons. The last year of Bregman’s extension will be his age 30 season, which is also important to note because Rendon will be entering his age 30 season next year.
Where Rendon falls in line with Arenado and Bregman is debatable. Rendon’s camp can argue that he’s the best of the three.
Rendon is the only one of the three that posted a .300/.370/.530 slash line in each of the past two seasons, not to mention the 49 home runs and 192 RBIs he’s contributed on top of that.
According to Fangraphs, Rendon also has the highest WAR over the past two seasons checking in at 12.9, while Arenado is at 11.4, with Bregman at 11.1.
Age is undoubtedly a factor, and Rendon will be the oldest of the three while seeking his extension. Teams have become increasingly wary of giving players contracts that go into their late 30s, and that will remain the case for Rendon. Although Rendon may be seeking a 7-year contract, he’ll be unlikely to land that whether it’s from the Nationals or on the free agent market.
As is always the case in these negotiations, each side will have to make concessions to make a deal work. For the Nationals, maybe it’s deferring less money and paying Rendon a higher AAV than they were initially comfortable with. For Rendon, perhaps it’s dropping the 7-year demand and settling on either 5 or 6 years.
The Nationals decided to take their time with a possible extension, and they’re going to end up paying the price for it, both figuratively and literally. In the end, both sides are still motivated to get a deal done, but what once seemed like an extension in the $150 million range will most likely end up being in the $165-180 million range.
Right now, a good guess for Rendon’s asking price is six years for $180 million ($30 million AAV), however, if the Nationals offer six years for $165 million ($27.5 million AAV), that would likely get a deal done.
The AAV will likely surpass Bryce Harper’s $25.4 million, which could be a tough pill for some both inside and outside of the organization to swallow. That was the decision the club made, and now its time to deal with it. As good as the Nationals are built, they can’t afford to lose Rendon next offseason.