Superstar third baseman Anthony Rendon is a free agent this winter and will look to cash in on a monster season with a massive contract from one of these teams.
Before the 2019 season, Anthony Rendon had played the first six years of his MLB career in the shadow of Bryce Harper. He was loved by the statisticians and analytical community but had never made an All-Star team despite receiving MVP votes in three seasons and carrying a career .285/.361/.469 slash line. The quiet 29-year-old just hadn’t done quite enough to stand out ahead of the in-your-face presence of Harper.
Suffice to say, that’s changed after an epic 2019 season.
Rendon enters free agency for the first time on the heels of a career year that ended with a World Series title. He hit .319/.412/.598 with 44 doubles, 34 home runs and 126 RBI. It was the second .300/.400/.500 season of his career and he followed it up by hitting .328/.413/.590 in the postseason with seven doubles, three home runs, 15 RBI and 11 walks in 20 games.
It’s impossible to envision a better walk year for Rendon, who is going to sign for more than $30 million per year when he ultimately puts pen to paper on a new contract.
There seems to be a mutual desire to remain with the Washington Nationals. Unlike Harper, Rendon does not seem as concerned with extracting every last possible dollar from free agency. Rendon has also been the better player over the last three years, posting an OPS+ of 143 to Harper’s 136 and generating 16.4 bWAR to Harper’s 10.1 total.
A deal could come together quickly, as Rendon is a no-frills type, and these five teams appear to be the most likely landing spots for the MVP candidate.
5. New York Yankees
The Yankees have not been shy about their plans to make a record-breaking offer to ace right-hander Gerrit Cole. It’s their fallback option, should Cole sign with a West Coast team, that is a little less clear. There are mid-tier starting pitchers that can provide a boost to a thin rotation in the Bronx, but Cole is the only true ace on the market. If the Yankees are unable to sign Cole, their preferred free agent, could they turn their eyes to Rendon?
A powerful lineup and shut-down bullpen were the two strengths that nearly propelled the Yankees back to their first World Series since 2009, and they could elect to focus on adding to their strengths instead of trying to cobble together a rotation. A lineup featuring Anthony Rendon, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres and Gary Sanchez – oh my.
There can never be too much offensive talent on one team in this current era of inflated home-run numbers. Signing Rendon would free up the Yankees to shop young third baseman Miguel Andujar, who has 40-homer potential but is severely limited defensively. An infield of Rendon, Torres, LeMahieu and Luke Voit would be the best in baseball. Going all in on Cole from the jump is the right move for the Yankees, but shifting their attention to a hitter like Rendon makes more sense than trying to sign another number two starter if he goes to Los Angeles.