With the Washington Nationals continuing to fall further out of playoff contention, should they consider trading their star third basemen Anthony Rendon?
It’s time to stop dreaming, the 2019 Washington Nationals are not a playoff contender. It is a harsh reality Nationals fans have not endured since the 2010 season, but on May 22, this team is finished.
If you watch this years Nationals team on a consistent basis you see this is not a contending ballclub. Whether it is lack of hitting with runners in scoring position, awful fundamental base running or defense, or possibly one of the the worst bullpens in Major League history, the Nationals are just not a team who is built to contend this season.
It is a sad reality when you come to think about it. A team that was predicted by many, including myself, to make a deep post-season run and leave the narrative that they would struggle without All-Star Bryce Harper in the dust behind them. Instead, Harper sits on top of the N.L. East with the 28-20 Phillies, and Washington is stuck just 3.5 games out of last place at 19-29.
Washington currently holds the fifth worst record in all of Major League Baseball. Only the Miami Marlins, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals hold worse records. All four of these teams were expected to be in a full rebuild mode this season. Washington, on the other hand, has the sixth highest payroll in all of baseball, and is going to have around $200 million spent on a team that likely will not finish in better than fourth place.
Once you accept the reality that the Nationals are not going to do anything of value this season, you must ask yourself what can they do to somehow gain any positives out of this disaster of a year. Besides firing the manager, which is a conversation many fans have played back with Davey Martinez over and over in their head, you ask yourself what assets do you have on your team that other organizations would want.
The biggest asset in the Washington organization is third basemen Anthony Rendon. After the departure of Harper in the off season, a lot was expected of Rendon in 2019. He was tasked with carrying a bigger load in the lineup, and was considered by many to be “the guy” who teams would have to work their gameplan around when facing the Nats.
So far, Rendon has lived up to and possibly exceed most peoples expectations for him this season. To date he is hitting for a line of .333/.428/.691 with nine home runs, 27 runs batted in, and 17 doubles.
The 28-year-old third basemen has been the life blood of the Washington offense, and without him this team could very easily be the worst in all of baseball. With Rendon in a contract year and set to hit the open market this fall, you would imagine Washington would be doing everything they can to lock him up long term….but this may not be the case.
A report came out yesterday from Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan that Scott Boras is telling people that the Nationals already “missed the boat” in terms of getting a new deal done with Rendon.
Jason Bishop of The Sports Junkies also added this interesting quote to go with Paulsen’s report. “I was told by someone who knows Mark Lerner pretty well — and I was told not to give the name out, but — he said that the Lerners are very hesitant to give Rendon the money (Nolan) Arenado got, which would be roughly in the $250 million range, they said they wouldn’t mind giving him $170 or $180, but $250, $260, they said they kind of balked at.”
Now stop me if this doesn’t sound eerily similar to the Bryce Harper situation just last season. Early on in the year reports came out that Washington was not 100% going to be able to fork up the money it took to sign Harper long term. At the trade deadline, the team had a deal in place to send Bryce to the Houston Astros, but ownership pulled the plug last minute, hoping to keep him in D.C. longterm in the off-season.
Once the season ended, Harper made it clear he wanted to stay in Washington D.C., but after their initial offer the Lerners never gave Harper another deal that was close to market value, eventually letting him walk to division rival Philadelphia getting basically nothing in return.
With the way this season is going, and ultimately the direction this franchise is going in, they cannot afford to make this same mistake with Rendon. If there is a number Washington is willing to go to, and they have talked to Rendon’s camp and they are nowhere close to reaching a common ground close to this number, the Nationals need to start exploring trade options for him ASAP.
Rendon is an MVP caliber player, and it would be very hard to let your best overall player leave in free agency in back to back seasons, but the Lerners can be a stingy group. If they do truly believe their is reasonable doubt they will lose Rendon in free agency, they need to trade him by this years trading deadline.
I don’t think there is anyone out there who does not believe Anthony Rendon is an MVP level player who would be great for the Nationals if he is signed longterm. But Washington is treading down the same dangerous road that burned them with Harper a year ago.
Ultimately this comes down to ownership deciding are they going to let their best player walk again for basically nothing, or will they compete and make an actual competitive offer than can benefit both sides. Just like Harper, Rendon appears he would like to be in D.C. for the rest of his career, and would work to get a deal that works for both sides. Your move Mark Lerner.