Then business came up. Lerner didn’t sour when asked about the future of Anthony Rendon. He did get a bit more serious while expressing that he wants the all-star third baseman to be with the franchise beyond this year. Rendon will become a free agent following this season, and as a National League MVP candidate he should attract offers on the open market.
“We certainly want to keep him. That’s 110 percent,” Lerner said. “It’s really in Tony’s and his family’s hands at this point. They have to decide what they want to do. He’s earned that right as a free agent. It couldn’t happen to a better guy. We love him to death.”
In early September, the Nationals offered Rendon a seven-year deal in the range of $210 million to $215 million, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation. There are deferrals in the contract, according to those people, that would be paid within the seven years after the contract expires. The offer is not expected to keep Rendon from testing free agency. He has been saying since mid-summer that he is interested in seeing what’s out there, often likening it to visiting a few lots while car shopping.
But Rendon always adds that he is interested in returning to Washington. He was drafted by the Nationals in 2011 and has been with the franchise since. This season was his best from start to finish, and he has been a key part of the postseason run. Lerner’s perspective is critical because such big spending is an ownership decision. He didn’t say a lot in his first public comments about Rendon but indicated it’s now up to the player, his family and his representation to consider what’s on the table.
There are obvious parallels to Rendon’s impending free agency and what the Nationals experienced with Bryce Harper last fall. The Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million deal late last September. That deal, however, had deferrals that wouldn’t pay out until 2052. Harper wound up signing with the Philadelphia Phillies for 13 years and $330 million. Listening to Lerner, and judging all signs since spring, it seems Washington wants to make sure Rendon sticks around.
“I hope that his decision is to stay here,” Lerner said. “And I’ll go pick him up and bring him over.”
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