Nats and Rendon headed toward a Harper-like contract saga?

Ben Krimmel
August 01, 2019 - 3:30 pm

Washington Nationals fans may want to prepare themselves for a bout of déjà vu.

Is Washington prepared to allow another All-Star to leave in free agency for the second-straight winter?

Last year it was Bryce Harper off to join one of the Nats' division rival and this year it might be 29-year-old Anthony Rendon who leaves D.C.

"I know that the Nationals badly want to retain Rendon," Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga told The Sports Junkies Thursday.

However, these talks have been bubbling up since last offseason and a deal doesn't look any closer after the July 31 trade deadline this year than it did during spring training.

Rendon told Grant & Danny this week he had not spoken to his agent Scott Boras (who also represents Harper) about a deal in "a few weeks ago, maybe about a month." Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo then told The Sports Junkies on Wednesday Rendon "better call his agent! Because we got a counter-proposal from his agent on July 15."

When asked by The Fan during spring training why not sign with the Nats at that time, Rendon was succinct in his response: "Maybe both sides aren't in the same place." 

"We're aggressively trying to sign Anthony Rendon," Rizzo told The Sports Junkies in May. "We're certainly going to be aggressive and try and make that happen, and hopefully he'll go. We have shown that we are not afraid to sign our own players. We're not afraid to sign free agent players. We're not afraid to spend money on stars of the game and I don't think Anthony Rendon would be any different."

Svrluga said he thinks the Nationals are making fair offers.

"I believe that they are making fair offers, offers with dollars and years that you would say, 'OK, that makes sense to get something done,'" he told The Junks Thursday before adding he doesn't know about the structures of the offers. (This could mean offers packed with deferred money like the deal reportedly offered to Harper.)

"But we can, I think, say with a high degree of assuredness that there's gonna be a lot of deferred money," Svrluga said on 106.7 The Fan. "How Rendon and his camp react to that is a major question. Do they rule out those offers?" 

He adds this is a "Nationals-specific issue" and "if they are structuring deals differently than other clubs would structure deals that lessens the chance that Anthony Rendon would return to the Nats."

And losing Rendon after the 2019 season would be among the most bitter pills for Nationals fans to swallow as he is having a fantastic year in which he made his first All-Star squad and is on track to put up career-high numbers in homers (23 so far), doubles (30), runs batted in (80) and a slash line of .317/.404/.609 for an OPS of 1.013 and OPS+ 154 (all tops for his career) through 94 games. 

"I think the fan base was mostly fine with allowing Bryce Harper to walk away even if it was too Philadelphia," Svrluga told The Junkies. "But they were fine in part because they figured (the Nats) will just use that money to re-sign Rendon and then they'll have a piece that a lot of the fan base seems to value more than Harper and obviously is having a much better season than Harper right now." 

 "If you allow Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon to walk out the door in consecutive years your fan base is not gonna take that in stride, I don't think. That would be a rough one."

On the positive side, Rendon has remained consistent in his comments saying he is all ears to the Nats and will listen to the team's offers. "I'm up to listen to whatever the Nats have to offer or whatever they want to have the discussions about," Rendon told 106.7 The Fan in February. "If we can come to terms where both sides are happy, I mean, why wouldn't you take that, you know? If you feel like your value is getting appreciated and they're on the same page, then, I mean, what's the issue?"

No issue, but getting to a place in which both sides are happy could take a long time. That is if it comes together at all. 

Follow @BenKrimmel and @1067theFan on Twitter and Instagram.

Related: