There has been little indication of movement before Boras arrived this weekend. Rendon has accepted that negotiations could go either way, saying in late June: “If it doesn’t happen, then no hard feelings.”
The most recent case study is the Nationals’ negotiations with Bryce Harper, another Boras client, who ultimately signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for 13 years and $330 million this past February. In its offers to Harper, Washington tried to defer much of the money decades down the road. People familiar with Rendon’s situation say initial overtures have been similarly structured.
Ted Lerner, 93, ceded control of the franchise to his son, Mark, in June 2018. But Ted Lerner and Boras have negotiated many contracts over the years, including a seven-year, $175 million extension for starter Stephen Strasburg in May 2016 and Max Scherzer’s seven-year, $210 million deal. There are indications that Boras’s preference is to deal directly with the Lerner family patriarch in the Rendon discussions.
A new starting point for Rendon emerged in February, when Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado signed an eight-year, $260 million extension. The Nationals made an offer to Rendon after Arenado signed, and the figures were “not close,” according to a person familiar with the proposal. But while Arenado’s deal may be too rich for Washington, it’s possible that one closer to what former American League MVP Jose Altuve signed with the Houston Astros in 2018 — five years for $151 million — could be what Rendon might agree to. Altuve is also represented by Boras.
The Nationals, as recently as this winter, did not view Rendon in the same class as Altuve. But that calculus may be changing given Rendon’s first half — 20 home runs, 61 RBI and strong defense. Rendon met with Mark Lerner and General Manager Mike Rizzo in April, but a person familiar with the conversation said that contract discussions were “minimal at best."
Boras’s presence Saturday suggests that negotiations may have become more substantive. The Nationals have four months to negotiate exclusively with Rendon before he becomes a free agent.