Well, here’s something.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Phillies are making free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon their “No. 1 target,” and aren’t concerned about crossing the $208 million luxury tax threshold, which they certainly would if they signed him.
This contradicts a report from Matt Gelb of The Athletic earlier this week, where Gelb suggested that after the Phillies signed Zack Wheeler to a five-year/$118 million deal, they were “operating under a directive to remain below the $208 million threshold that triggers the luxury tax.”
Perhaps things have changed over the past few days, but obviously both can’t be true.
Rendon finished third in National League MVP voting in 2019, slashing .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs, 126 RBIs and a 7.0 fWAR. He also helped the Nationals to win their first World Series title in franchise history.
Since 2016, FanGraphs says that Rendon has been the best third baseman in baseball. Reuniting him with his former Nationals teammate, Bryce Harper, would give the Phillies one of the most dominant lineups in baseball.
Nationals owner Mark Lerner told Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington that the team won’t be able to afford to retain both World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg and Rendon. Jon Heyman of RADIO.COM said earlier this week that the Nationals are more confident in their ability to retain Strasburg than Rendon.
Nightengale says that the Phillies haven’t met with Rendon yet. The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly have. It is worth nothing, though, that Rendon’s agent is Scott Boras, who represents Harper and Jake Arrieta, who the Phillies have signed in the past two offseasons.
MLB Trade Rumors projects that Rendon, 29, will sign a seven-year/$235 million deal. Barry Svrluga of The Washington Post reported in September that Rendon rejected an extension offer from the Nationals that would have paid him between $210 and $215 million over the next seven seasons.
The Phillies interest in upgrading the hot corner isn’t limited to Rendon, with Nightengale adding that Josh Donaldson is a “fall back plan.” Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported earlier this week that the Phillies were “maintaining contact” with Donaldson.
Since the Phillies signed Wheeler, who was issued a qualifying offer, they had to give up their second-highest draft pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and $500,000 in international signing bonus pool money. Both Rendon and Donaldson rejected qualifying offers, so if the Phillies signed either, they would have to relinquish their third-highest pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, and $500,000 more in international signing bonus pool money.
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