Anthony Rendon got two more hits for the Nationals on Tuesday night in Philadelphia. He drove in two more runs. He was in the middle of the comeback from a 6-1 deficit to a 10-6, 10-inning win. His slash line is borderline comical, even for the second week of April: .421/.489/.895.
He’s far from the reason the Nationals are inconsistent so far. It’s pretty much been the opposite — the reason they’ve had a chance to win nearly every day regardless of what shenanigans are taking place around him in the lineup, in the bullpen and in the dugout.
MORE: Watch ‘ChangeUp,’ a new MLB live whiparound show on DAZN
Whether any of that has gotten Rendon closer to securing his future in Washington, however, is still up in the air. That’s a story this franchise and its followers are too familiar with, too recently. It also happens to be a story other teams have faced with young pre-free agency stars, but those teams have increasingly addressed them early this season, while Rendon and the Nationals have not.
Rendon is scheduled to hit free agency this offseason, and the last update on an extension came on the eve of the start of this season, when MLB Network reported that the sides were “not close.” In mid-March, NBC Sports Washington reported that he and agent Scott Boras had rejected their latest offer. Rendon told the network that talks had “kind of come to a halt.”
This was going on as money was being flung at Nolan Arenado, Alex Bregman, Ronald Acuna Jr., Jacob deGrom, Xander Bogaerts, even Eloy Jimenez, who had not yet played a game for the White Sox. Agent Scott Boras took note of the trend when speaking this week to the Los Angeles Times, calling such deals “snuff contracts … they’re trying to snuff out the market.”
Nationals president Mike Rizzo told reporters in spring training in Florida last month that they wouldn’t let that development pressure them on Rendon: “I don’t think that what other teams do affects our long-term strategies,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “We’ve got a plan in place not only for this year but for the long term, and I think we’ll follow that.”
Which all makes sense, at least financially, for the Nationals — except for the Bryce Harper factor. Not totally unrelated: Harper, facing his old team in a second series this young season, homered Tuesday night, and of his four so far as a Phillie, two are against the Nationals.
The damage Harper has done is a worst-case scenario for Nationals fans, torn over their feelings about losing him, and not totally marching in step behind the front office. Pouring salt into that wound was the report last week, just before Harper’s return, that the Nationals’ two offers to Harper since the end of last season not only offered less money, but included deferments that stretched until Harper would be 80 years old.
MORE: Nats’ Trevor Rosenthal discusses his early-season struggles
Even before that, at the opener in late March against the Mets, fans chanted before every Rendon at-bat, “Lock him up! Lock him up!”
The counterargument, of course, is reminiscent of the one connected to Harper’s negotiations: The Nationals already have big money tied into the rest of the roster, mainly the pitching staff, like Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and newcomer Patrick Corbin. They will eventually have to pay the new franchise cornerstones, Juan Soto and Victor Robles, who dragged the Nationals to victory Tuesday with dramatic late home runs.
Rendon’s argument, though, is just as potent, throughout his Nationals career and in the first two weeks of his walk season. The race is on to resolve it, either this season or in 2020.
Source: Read Full Article