According to two people with knowledge of the negotiations, the proposal differs vastly from the 10-year, $300 million offer the Nationals made last September to outfielder Bryce Harper. That contract included about $100 million in deferred salary, with the final payment coming in 2052.
The offer to Rendon, in contrast, is structured similarly to the seven-year, $210 million deal the Nationals gave to pitcher Max Scherzer in 2015. The deferrals, according to these people, are to be paid off within the seven years after the contract expires.
Rendon, 29, enters Tuesday’s National League wild-card game coming off the best season of his seven-year career. He set career highs in home runs (34), RBI (National League-leading 126), batting average (.319), on-base percentage (.412) and slugging percentage (.598). Among NL players, only the Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich and Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger exceeded Rendon’s 1.010 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
“His season was outstanding,” Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said Monday. “. . . He’s a consummate professional. He’s as low-maintenance a superstar as there is in the game, one of the best players that nobody knows about, and he’s a true credit to the scouting and player development staffs here in Washington that drafted him, signed him, developed him and watched him turn into a superstar.”
In February, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado agreed to an eight-year, $260 million contract extension — a deal that Rendon’s team, led by agent Scott Boras, believed strengthened its leverage. Several teams with the ability to spend would be in need of a third baseman in the upcoming winter, including the Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers and division rivals Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies.
Rendon was not available to reporters in the clubhouse during Monday’s workout day at Nationals Park, and he has been typically low-profile about his contract year. But he also has shown that he doesn’t mind the idea of allowing other teams to bid for his services.
“I mean, if you’re giving me the opportunity and saying I’m this close from going to go car shopping from multiple lots, instead of staying in one lot, I mean, what would you do?” Rendon said in a radio interview on “Grant and Danny” on 106.7 the Fan in July.
Though negotiations on a new deal have been going on since spring training, people familiar with Rendon’s thinking said he has indicated to ownership that he feels he has earned the right to free agency, which opens after the conclusion of the World Series.
Mark Lerner, now the Nationals’ managing principal partner, has met personally with Rendon several times, including last week, to gauge his interest in the offer and make sure he knows how much the club would like to keep him. Part of that is due to his play on the field, but he also has been the Nats player most closely involved in the Nationals Youth Baseball Academy — an organization to which he has made several donations, including a $150,000 gift that was announced last week.
“He’s a great teammate,” Rizzo said. “Between the lines, in the dugout and in the community, he’s outstanding.”
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