Third baseman Anthony Rendon signs $245 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels, joining Mike Trout in the best one-two punch in the Majors
The formula for beating the Los Angeles Angels the past few years has been simple: as Mike Trout goes, so goes the lineup. Not anymore, as Trout now has a teammate with the talent to match his own.
Anthony Rendon, the All-Star third baseman formerly with the World Series champion Washington Nationals, has agreed to a seven-year, $245 million contract to join the Angels, a deal first reported on Wednesday by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The deal makes the 29-year-old the highest-paid third baseman in the league with an average salary of $35 million per year, exceeding the $32.5 million that Nolan Arenado signed for with the Colorado Rockies last offseason.
Rendon has spent his entire seven-year career with the Nationals, putting together a resume that includes a .290 career average, 136 home runs, and 546 RBI. He led the league with 126 RBI in 2019 on his way to a third-place finish in National League MVP balloting.
The Angels might still be looking to upgrade their starting rotation, but they’re going to have a powerful lineup for the foreseeable future. Picture the dilemma for opposing teams: Trout, batting second, comes to bat with Rendon in the on-deck circle followed by Shohei Ohtani. Trout has led the AL in intentional walks the last three seasons. Rendon gives him protection in the lineup and ensures that the three-time MVP will get even more pitches to hit.
Rendon was one of only six players last season with an OPS above 1.000. Trout was another. Only eight players had a Wins Above Replacement above six; two of them were Rendon and Trout. The Angels are now the only team in the league with two players in both categories. Over the last three seasons, Rendon leads all third baseman with a .310 average, .953 OPS, and is second to Arenado in RBI.
The Angels lineup is now so deep that future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols might hit as low as seventh in the batting order. They’ll have Justin Upton for a full season, while Tommy La Stella returns healthy after suffering a broken leg in early July; at the time La Stella was having an All-Star caliber first half, hitting 16 home runs and driving in 44 in just 292 plate appearances.
The Angels still need to upgrade their pitching staff this offseason They are talking with the Cleveland Indians about acquiring Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. Left-handers like Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, and Hyun-Jin Ryu are also still on the free agent market.
The best player in baseball has called Anaheim home for the past eight seasons, and the Angels have one postseason appearance to show for it. General manager Billy Eppler finally made a move on Wednesday that shows he’s serious about surrounding Trout with the talent to be perennial contenders. They still don’t have an ace on their pitching staff, but now Trout, Rendon, and the rest of the Angels lineup will be able to outscore anyone in 2020.