SAN DIEGO — Anthony Rendon and the Los Angeles Angels agreed to a seven-year, $245 million deal, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, a move that sends the Washington Nationals into next season without a key piece of their World Series team.
Rendon, 29, was in the Nationals’ plans until he hit the free agent market this offseason. The sides couldn’t agree upon a deal during this past year, despite multiple rounds of negotiations, and that left the Angels to sign one of the best third basemen in baseball. Rendon finished third in MVP voting last season and, across six years in Washington, established himself as one of the league’s most consistent hitters. He departs for Anaheim just two days after the Nationals signed Stephen Strasburg, the other key free agent off their championship club, to a seven-year deal also worth $245 million.
The Strasburg signing made it seem like a long shot for the Nationals to sign Rendon, who was always expected to break the bank with a massive contract. Rendon was being pursued by the Angels, Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers as recently as this week, according to people with knowledge of his free agency, but the Nationals wound up on the outside looking in. Their last public offer was for seven years and $210 million in early September, but Rendon was turned off by the amount of deferred money in that proposal, according to a person with knowledge of the terms and Rendon’s thinking.
With the Nationals needing a replacement at third for Rendon, their attention will shift to Josh Donaldson. They have maintained interest in Donaldson for the last month or so, and were always ready to pivot to him if Rendon landed elsewhere. Donaldson made $23 million with the Atlanta Braves in 2019 while betting on himself with a one-year deal, and is expected to command an average annual salary of around $25 million. The 2015 American League MVP is seeking a three-to-four-year deal, according to reports, and the Nationals have financial flexibility with Rendon off the payroll.
This is the second straight offseason that a homegrown star departed Washington in free agency. The Nationals lost Bryce Harper to a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies last spring, and Rendon’s deal with the Angels ends a career-long tenure in Washington. The Nationals drafted him in 2011 and helped develop him into a career talent. That ultimately meant he was too expensive for their preferred spending habits.
Harper’s exit was soon buried by a title that happened, in part, because the Nationals had young players such as Juan Soto and Victor Robles to overcome his absence in the outfield and the lineup. The same type of insurance does not exist for Rendon. The Nationals will be busy trying to find it, and make sure that Rendon leaving, for the farthest franchise he could choose, doesn’t sting for years to come.