Nationals

Quick Links

Scott Boras is once again in place to control the Nationals’, and baseball’s, offseason

Scott Boras is once again in place to control the Nationals’, and baseball’s, offseason

The calendar has once again put Scott Boras into the spirit. 
 
Coming holidays have nothing to do with his joy. He’s giddy, revved, his premium salesman self again because the regular season is over, which means free agency has begun.
 
Annually, Boras has a large grip on the market and the Nationals’ future. This year, he’s in a white-knuckle place. Boras represents both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg. He also represents starter Gerrit Cole. Those three are the top free agents -- by a wide swath -- this offseason, putting Boras in a place of leverage he may always talk from but likely has this time.
 
The Nationals have long felt Boras’ influence, on both good and bad fronts. He convinced Nationals founding principal owner Ted Lerner that Max Scherzer was worth $210 million and, more importantly, a seven-year commitment when other teams did not believe that to be the case. The contract has been a coup despite its hefty numbers. But, Boras also provided underwhelming veterans to the Washington roster. Matt Wieters and Jeremy Hellickson are among those who come to mind.
 
This time around, he has curious clients. They’re different. Neither is Bryce Harper in flamboyance or age. Both have established relationships with the Nationals. The vetting process is unnecessary and even an exchange of numbers is probably well in the past. Two huge, but somewhat reticent, stars coming from the same team after winning the World Series will be new for everyone.
 
Rendon has used his own leverage on Boras. Back in spring training, when Rendon told NBC Sports Washington negotiations with the Nationals “hit a wall,” he also made clear how he perceived the agent-player relationship when it came to him and Boras. 
 
“What everyone has the misconception of is they think that we work for Scott,” Rendon said. “Like, no. That’s not the way it works. Like, I’m telling him how it’s going and you can ask him. We’ve gotten (into) some jibber-jabbers before, too. Like, I’m paying him. Nah, [debates] don’t fly with me.”
 
Move to Media Day at the World Series. Rendon was asked if he thought Boras would be busy this offseason. He quickly answered, “yeah,” then added this poke.
 
“He’s about to be even richer, too, probably,” Rendon said. “Must be nice.”
 
Strasburg undermined one of Boras’ prime tenets in 2016 when he signed an extension early. Washington had to trade back-end opt-outs as the cost of keeping Strasburg from the open market. Negotiations then worked from spring training into the first month of the season. Strasburg wanted nothing to do with them until both sides were very close to an agreement.
 
“I pretty much told Scott to kind of leave me alone as much as possible,” Strasburg said then. "To be honest, it’s hard to block something like that out. It’s your future and your kid’s kids future, too. I think one thing that kept me centered, kept me focused, was why do I play this game. Bottom line was I play this game because I’m a competitor.”
 
The deal gave Mike Rizzo a chance to crow a tad.
 
“I think we had a discussion with Scott,” Rizzo said then. “He works for the players. I think this was player-driven -- the agreement. I think that Stephen wanted to be here and he expressed that to Scott. We hammered out the best deal that we could.”
 
Strasburg agreed with that sentiment at the time, before the World Series, before he found a formula for good health which allowed him to lead the National League in innings pitched in 2019. It's one of the tenets which makes Washington hopeful Strasburg will return.
 
“I think what they believe in and what I believe in kind of coincide,” Strasburg said of the organization.
 
Strasburg chose to exercise his first opt-out opportunity. However, what he listed as causes for signing the extension -- level of comfort, opportunity to win, quality of life outside of baseball -- remain in place. The wrinkle is Boras will be working the open market with both of the top-tier pitchers under his guidance. 
 
Typically, competition between agents to define the market can drag out free agency. This offseason, Boras will simultaneously be handling the clients whose markets play off each other. Strasburg’s numbers will influence Cole’s numbers. Their age -- Strasburg is a little more than two years older -- should be the defining point for gap in payment and years. Boras will argue up Strasburg in order to later obtain more money for Cole. Waiting could be beneficial to both players and laborious for fans.
 
Boras is again in command no matter the ultimate process. Washington’s most pressing issues are in his hands. The league’s most in-demand players are in his hands. So is the future. Juan Soto, a client of the Boras Corporation, becomes a free agent in 2025.

 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

The ageless Fernando Rodney to reportedly play in Dominican Winter League

The ageless Fernando Rodney to reportedly play in Dominican Winter League

Only one player in the major leagues threw a pitch while over the age of 40 last season. Fernando Rodney, who in fact is 42 and coming off his first ever World Series title, has appeared in at least 50 games each of the last eight years and 10 of the last 11.

For a player who’s three years older than the second-oldest active pitcher, taking the offseason off wouldn’t just be expected—it’d probably be recommended. But Rodney is taking no such break, reportedly signing up for the Dominican Winter League this offseason.

Leones del Escogido plays in his hometown of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. This will actually be the fifth time Rodney will suit up for the team, most recently doing so last winter.

Rodney is a free agent after being picked up by the Nationals midseason. He’s played 17 years in the majors and ranks 17th all-time in saves with 327.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

How big of a priority is filling the hole at second base for the Nationals?

How big of a priority is filling the hole at second base for the Nationals?

When the Nationals entered the offseason, they had significant needs at seven different areas of the roster: catcher, first base, second base, third base, rotation, bullpen and bench.

Washington made strides toward solidifying the first two by inking catcher Yan Gomes and first baseman Howie Kendrick to separate deals over the first five weeks of the offseason. But with former stars Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon both still on the board, there are still many different directions the Nationals could go this winter.

On this week’s episode of the Nationals Talk podcast, NBC Sports Washington’s Todd Dybas sat down with Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post and MLB.com’s Jamal Collier to talk about the team’s offseason plans. With the needs the Nationals have in so many areas, the writers agreed Washington didn’t need to prioritize second base.

“Second base, to me, feels like it would probably be the last thing on my checklist if I’m the Nats,” Collier said. “You’re going to operate on some kind of budget and you have to spend money on re-signing [Stephen] Strasburg, figuring out whatever you’re going to do at third base…and you have to do something with this bullpen as well.”

Right now, the Nationals have top prospect Carter Kieboom as a potential option to take the starting job out of Spring Training. They also have veteran utility players Wilmer Difo and Adrian Sanchez on the roster, but neither has been able to produce consistently on the offensive end.

“I would probably band-aid it with probably a cheaper option than Brian Dozier,” Dougherty said. “Maybe even give Carter the shot but have a veteran behind him…César Hernández makes a ton of sense to me. He’s a switch hitter, he can play multiple positions, you have a hole at utility player.”

Dybas also mentioned Starlin Castro as a potential option. Castro played all 162 games for the Miami Marlins last season, hitting .270 with a career-high 22 home runs. He’ll be 30 years old on Opening Day and was lauded by his former club for his clubhouse presence.

One potential option that came off the board in recent weeks was Mike Moustakas, who inked a four-year, $64 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds. A natural third baseman, Moustakas played 47 games at second for the Milwaukee Brewers last season and is now entrenched there for the Reds moving forward with Eugenio Suarez playing third.

“I hate that Moustakas deal,” Collier said. The Reds are “putting him out of position. He’s not a second baseman. So you’re getting worse defensively for a guy who’s pretty much all power. We don’t know what the shape of the ball is going to be [and] he’s only getting older.”

It was certainly a high price tag, which likely took the Nationals out of the running if second base is an area the team is hoping to save money on. But they also could’ve signed Moustakas to play third, a position that is remarkably light on talent in free agency.

For the full episode, which also includes discussions about Rendon and Strasburg’s prospects of returning to Washington, you can find the Nationals Talk podcast at Art19, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: