Nationals

Quick Links

Nationals should have re-signed Rendon over Strasburg, according to Steve Phillips

Nationals should have re-signed Rendon over Strasburg, according to Steve Phillips

The Nationals signed right-hander Stephen Strasburg to a then-historic seven-year, $245 million contract on Monday, a few days after Washington owner Mark Lerner said the team could not afford to keep both Strasburg and star third-baseman Anthony Rendon.

So, after the team re-signed Strasburg, it seemed that the Nationals had made their decision regarding Rendon too.

But SiriusXM's Steve Phillips thinks the Nationals made the wrong choice.

"I probably would have gone position player and not the pitcher, just because of predictability," Phillips said in an interview Wednesday morning with NBC Sports Washington. "It's a seven-year commitment, it's a big commitment. Stephen Strasburg had a remarkable season this year, but it was the first time in the last five years that he's made 30 starts in a season, so his health has been a bit of a challenge." 

It does make sense that Strasburg signed with the Nationals before Rendon got close; Strasburg grew up in the organization and has given the team, and the fans, a lot to cheer about over the years. While his health has been a problem in the past, if the ace stays healthy the decision to re-sign Strasburg over Rendon could prove beneficial for the Nationals. 

"When [Strasburg] is healthy, he's dynamic," Phillips said. 

From a purely statistical perspective, both Strasburg and Rendon proved they have something worthy of the big bucks during the 2019 regular season and postseason.

Rendon had a breakout season in 2019, slashing .319/.412/.598 with the most doubles (44) and RBI (126) in the NL, enough to land him in third place in the NL MVP race and earn him his second silver slugger. (He also had a career-high 34 home runs). 

It was also Rendon's third consecutive season batting above .300, and his strong swing proved key in the Nationals' World Series run -- he batted .328 and slugged .590 with three home runs and 15 RBI (and 11 walks) over the course of the postseason. 

Meanwhile, Strasburg started 30 games in the regular season for the first time in five years, with a 3.32 ERA and a team-and career-high 251 strikeouts over 209 innings. He also held opposing batters to a .210 average.

Strasburg's postseason performance also proved noteworthy, continuing his success with a 1.98 ERA and 47 strikeouts over 36.1 innings pitched, putting him with a career 71 strikeouts and 1.46 ERA in the postseason. 

And, though it is hard to compare statistics for pitchers and position players, both Strasburg and Rendon finished the season with a 6.3 WAR (wins above replacement).

There's no word yet as to where Rendon will end up by the end of free-agency, but Phillips thinks it's unlikely, albeit impossibly, he re-signs with the Nationals. 

"You're going to look at the Rendon deal..as being extraordinary," Phillips said. "I think it's probably going to take the price tag over where the Nationals are going to be able to go. It may be that they're going to have to settle."

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

  •  

Quick Links

Ryan Zimmernan’s return to the Nationals is finally happening

Ryan Zimmernan’s return to the Nationals is finally happening

If Ryan Zimmerman did not return to the Nationals, he at least would have a future teaching how not to negotiate.

Zimmerman openly drove down his bargaining leverage for almost a year before signing a one-year deal on Friday to return to the only professional team he’s known, a source confirmed. The deal is reported at $2 million.

Throughout the season, Zimmerman openly discussed his interest in returning and understanding it would be at a low rate. As if his stance wasn’t already clear, Zimmerman explained at a screening of the Nationals’ championship video he would return or play more golf.

“So, we’ll be good to go,” Zimmerman said.

It’s baseball for now. Zimmerman rejoins the defending World Series champions to play his 16th season. He’s a 35-year-old platoon player this season. Zimmerman’s money and legacy have been established. He’s back in the fold to pursue another title. 

And he makes an already old Nationals team older. Zimmerman turns 36 years old the day after the 2020 regular season ends. Howie Kendrick will be 37 years old by midseason. Asdrúbal Cabrera is 34 years old. Eric Thames is 33 years old. Will Harris is 35, Daniel Hudson 32, Sean Doolittle 33, Max Scherzer 35, Kurt Suzuki 36. Yan Gomes will be 33 just after the All-Star break. 

Zimmerman will share first base with Thames and, occasionally, Howie Kendrick. They provide an intriguing splits-based platoon. Thames hits right-handers well -- 23 of his 25 2019 home runs came against them, as did much of his opportunity in Milwaukee -- and Zimmerman has a .917 career OPS against left-handed pitchers. Zimmerman is the much better defender.

He’s back because he -- and the Nationals -- believe Zimmerman’s production remains directly tied to his health. His September and postseason work showed Zimmerman’s bat speed remains intact. He is quietly one of the better defensive first baseman in the league. They think they can protect him. Overall, the Nationals are so comfortable with an expanse of older players because they plan to shield them with limited usage. Also, Josh Donaldson went to Minnesota, clearing the cash and providing a need for Zimmerman. 

Kendrick, Cabrera and Starlin Castro can play various infield spots. Thames and Zimmerman will reduce the other’s role, as well as pinch-hit when not starting. Davey Martinez has options. He also has the challenge of rotating players. One thing on his side: older players know they are just that. Grousing about playing time should not be an issue with the group, the majority of which played as role players last year on the way to a World Series title. 

One other thing to note about Zimmerman: he’s 30 home runs short of 300. Can he get there with another two years on the field? He has at least one more to add to his total, assuring his driver has another lonely summer.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Scott Boras vehemently disputes the Jose Altuve buzzer-cheating rumors

Scott Boras vehemently disputes the Jose Altuve buzzer-cheating rumors

Renowned MLB agent Scott Boras outright denied the buzzer-cheating rumors surrounding his client Jose Altuve, in an interview with TMZ.  The high-profile agent didn't mince words about the allegations. 

After Altuve hit the series-clinching walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 2019 ALCS, the Astros' star appears to tell his teammates not to rip off his jersey. This led to rumors that he was hiding a device underneath it.

It's not factual," Boras said. "It's just innuendo."

There is nothing to any form of electronic dynamic," Boras told the reporter. "The Commissioner's office studied it. Everyone knows it."

Altuve publicly denied the rumors regarding the buzzer to help him tip pitches last weekend at the Astros' winter FanFest.

Altuve congratulated the Nationals on winning the World Series and believes everything from the fallout of the trashcan scandal will be resolved in due time.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: