Anthony Rendon

Soon-to-be free agents still in MLB playoffs Phillies fans should keep an eye on

Soon-to-be free agents still in MLB playoffs Phillies fans should keep an eye on

As Phillies fans wait out another October without playoff baseball, there are still reasons to watch. Both National League Divisional Series have been exciting and will go to winner-take-all Game Fives.

There are several players Phillies fans should keep a close eye on throughout the playoffs, soon-to-be free agents who could make a big impact or play a role.

RHP Stephen Strasburg (WSH)

Strasburg can opt out this offseason of the final three years of his contract.

Why wouldn't he? Because he's owed $45 million in the last year, 2023.

Why would he? Because he's owed only $15 million in the other two years, totaling $75 million over three years. If Strasburg hit the open market, he would absolutely earn more than $75 million over three years.

Strasburg had a tremendous 2019 season. He went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA and led the NL with 209 innings. He struck out 251 batters and allowed just 24 home runs, a low rate in the year of the juiced ball.

Strasburg has also continued to dominate in the playoffs. In 28 postseason innings, he has allowed two runs (0.64 ERA) and struck out 38. 

He could be an intriguing alternative to Gerrit Cole in free agency. Strasburg is two years and two months older than Cole and will cost less.

Strasburg is, like Cole and Anthony Rendon, a Scott Boras client.

RHP Gerrit Cole (HOU)

Cole's price tag continues to soar. After going 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and striking out 326 batters in 212⅓ innings, he dazzled while the entire baseball world was watching in Game 2 of the ALDS. Cole struck out 15 Rays over 7⅔ scoreless innings.

Cole's payday should exceed the $217 million Boston committed to David Price before the 2016 season. He is a more accomplished pitcher and is a year younger than Price was at that time.

If forced to guess right now, I'd say eight years, $240 million for Cole.

3B Anthony Rendon (WSH)

Another player whose contract this offseason could approach $300 million. Nolan Arenado's extension in February cost the Rockies $260 million over eight years. Rendon's offense and defense is just as good and his baserunning is better. 

Arenado is known as a dynamic defender and still makes flashy plays, but the various defensive metrics peg Rendon as a similar gloveman the last couple years.

3B Josh Donaldson (ATL)

Donaldson signed a one-year, $23 million prove-it deal with the Braves and then he proved it. 

The Bringer of Rain went deep 37 times and drove in 94 runs, coming close to his peak from 2015-17. He walked 100 times and provided solid protection for Freddie Freeman.

Donaldson turns 34 in December. He will likely be looking for three years but might not get that many. The Phillies should explore a two-year deal with a high AAV. Even with Alec Bohm almost ready to go, adding Donaldson could be a bridge-gapping move or one that potentially makes Rhys Hoskins expendable in a trade for starting pitching.

LHP Wade Miley (HOU)

Miley was the latest pitcher to find his groove in Houston. He went 14-6 with a 3.98 ERA in 33 starts for the Astros, and that ERA is deceiving because Miley allowed 21 earned runs in 11⅓ innings in September when Houston had a comfortable lead for home-field advantage.

Miley, though, is not as effective as most of his 2019 indicates. He doesn't go deep into games, struggles the third time through an order and needs a bit of luck with men in scoring position. The Phillies should let another team grab him this winter. They don't need another pitcher with low velocity who doesn't miss many bats.

LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD)

Ryu will be a free agent after spending his first six seasons with the Dodgers. Ryu is comfortable in L.A. and it is difficult to envision the Dodgers not bringing him back.

RHP Daniel Hudson (WSH)

A 32-year-old right-handed reliever who was brilliant in 25 post-trade-deadline innings with the Nationals, posting a 1.44 ERA. Washington will likely try to bring him back.

LHP Aroldis Chapman (NYY)

He can opt out of the remaining two years and $30 million of his contract but only if he feels he can get a better deal, which would be too rich for the Phils given their other needs.

OF Brett Gardner (NYY)

Would be an interesting veteran and extra man to add for a Phillies team that faces uncertainty in center field.

Utilityman Eric Sogard (TB)

Solid bench piece coming off his best year (.290 BA, .810 OPS). Can play second, third, short and both outfield corners.

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What to make of Nationals' reported 7-year offer to Anthony Rendon

What to make of Nationals' reported 7-year offer to Anthony Rendon

For the second straight year, the Nationals have reportedly offered a long-term deal to one of their soon-to-be-free-agent superstars.

The Nats, according to the Washington Post, have offered third baseman Anthony Rendon a seven-year deal worth between $210 million and $215 million.

Last year around this time, the Nationals floated a 10-year, $300 million offer to Bryce Harper. Like the Rendon offer, it was one that sounded good but was almost designed to fail ahead of free agency. The Harper proposal included deferred money all the way through 2052. According to the Post, the Rendon offer was more similar to Max Scherzer's seven-year, $210 million deal, which has deferred money that will be paid off within seven years of its expiration date.

Still, there's no reason for Rendon to forego free agency at this point.

"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 106.7 The Fan in D.C. in July.

Rendon, like Harper, is a Scott Boras client. So, too, is the top pitcher in this winter's free-agent market, Gerrit Cole. Our Phillies insider, Jim Salisbury, mentioned on Monday's "At the Yard" podcast that there is an appetite on Boras' part to funnel one of those players to the Phillies, an organization with substantial resources and Boras' most high-profile client: Harper.

While $210-215 million over seven years is an insane amount of money, it's probably not the most Rendon will find. In February, Nolan Arenado signed an eight-year, $260 million extension with the Rockies. Arenado is 10 months younger than Rendon and is a more high-profile player, but Rendon might be the better player. His production has been similar to Arenado's over the last three seasons without Rendon playing half his games at Coors Field.

Over those three seasons (2017-19), Rendon has hit .310/.397/.556 with averages of 43 doubles, 28 homers, 106 RBI and 95 runs scored.

Over that same span, Arenado has hit .307/.375/.577 with averages of 37 doubles, 39 homers, 119 RBI and 102 runs scored.

Why would Rendon accept $50 million less?

Rendon is also coming off an MVP-caliber season, even if he figures to lose out to Cody Bellinger in the race. No player in the majors was more consistent than Rendon from Game 1 through Game 162. He maintained a batting average over .300 and an OPS of at least .996 from April 1 through the end of the season.

Rendon led the NL with 44 doubles and led the majors with 126 RBI despite missing 16 games. He set a career-high with 34 home runs, and he did this all while barely striking out. Rendon had 80 walks and whiffed just 86 times in 646 plate appearances.

This first offer from the Nationals won't necessarily be the last. Washington badly wants to keep Rendon. He is not only their best position player but also one of their enormous draft-and-develop success stories. Rendon was the Nats' first-round pick, sixth overall in 2011 out of Rice University. He was a very productive major-leaguer in his first full season back in 2014 but has just gotten better and better and better.

The Phillies could make a run at Rendon. They know they need to improve drastically to make up ground on the Braves and Nationals. What better way than by signing the top position player on the market while also stealing a huge bat from one of your rivals' lineups?

That contract, though, may come close to Harper's, either in total value, annual average value or both.

And consider this: If the Phillies sign Rendon to a contract paying $30 million annually, while also extending J.T. Realmuto this offseason to a deal that averages $20 million per year, then their payroll would be only about $10 million below the luxury tax threshold before they add a single pitcher. And pitching is quite obviously the biggest need.

As outlined here, a Rendon pursuit would be complicated for the Phillies. Their top prospect, Alec Bohm, plays third base. Bohm may need to move to first base eventually, which is Rhys Hoskins' position.

It will be another interesting offseason for the Phillies. It always is when you're one of the teams with the most money and biggest desire to improve.

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At The Yard podcast: Can Phillies spend their way past Braves and Nationals in 2020?

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At The Yard podcast: Can Phillies spend their way past Braves and Nationals in 2020?

Can the Phillies realistically spend themselves into contention in 2019, or are the Braves and Nationals set up too solidly for years to come? Ricky Bottalico and Corey Seidman break it down.

• Offseason priorities, in order.

• Does it even make sense to spend huge again this offseason if the Braves and Nats will still be so much better?

• How many 2019 Phillies actually had good years?

• Rhys Hoskins was Adam Dunn this year and that's not good enough.

• Should a Hoskins trade be explored even if Phillies are selling low?

• Free-agent relief market is UGLY

Subscribe and rate At The Yard:
Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies