Anthony Rendon is going to be the most coveted free agent hitter this offseason, and he’s well aware of his value.
According to a report from the Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga, the Washington Nationals offered Rendon a seven-year contract in September worth between $210 and $215 million. However, he’s still expected to head into free agency, where that number could head even higher.
Rendon may not be a household name, only making his first All-Star Game this summer, but he’s established himself as one of the game’s best all-around third basemen. The Nationals are known to spend big, especially on Scott Boras clients, and Rendon will be a key name to watch this winter.
How much money are the Nationals deferring?
For anyone familiar with how the Nationals spend money, the first question when a story comes out about a contract offer should be how valuable the offer really is.
Three-time Cy Young Award-winner Max Scherzer also received a seven-year, $210 million contract from the Nats, but historic deferrals cut into that then-mind-boggling number. Scherzer is actually earning that money in $15 million increments over 14 years, which cuts the value of the contract by about $40 million given the time value of money.
Some fans were outraged that Bryce Harper turned down a 10-year, $300 million deal from the Nats last year, but that contract would have included $100 million in deferments that lasted until 2052. As FanGraphs’ Craig Edwards pointed out, that would have lowered the value of the deal to around $244 million over 10 years. Far less than the $330 million he eventually landed from the Philadelphia Phillies.
Sources told Svrluga that Rendon’s contract would have been similar to the Scherzer deal with all of the payments coming within seven years of the end of the deal. No word on how much that would lower his $30 million annual value, but it’s worth considering that he may not be getting offered as much as the sticker price would indicate.
Rendon is very much worth the money
Here’s the thing: Even if that contract didn’t include deferrals, Rendon would be well worth the $30-plus million he’d be receiving in the potential deal.
Rendon is aging like fine with with a career-high 7.0 WAR this season; only Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Christian Yelich have bested his 19.9 WAR over the last three years. He's hitting a career-best .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs while cutting his strikeouts to a career-best 13.3 percent. The league average is nearly double that.
The 29-year-old is happy to hit free agency because he’ll have no shortage of suitors, and given their relative lack of depth at third base compared to the outfield, the Nats will be more loathe to let him go than they were with Harper. Up-and-coming teams like the Chicago White Sox, Atlanta Braves and Texas Rangers, or even the New York Yankees, should be interested.
Given that Nolan Arenado already landed an eight-year, $260 million deal to stay with the Colorado Rockies, Rendon has a great case to surpass the Nationals’ reported offer, deferrals or otherwise. With little competition outside of potentially J.D. Martinez, he should have his pick of fine offers this winter.
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