WASHINGTON -- The Nationals met with third baseman Anthony Rendon on Tuesday afternoon as part of ongoing contract extension talks between the two sides, a source confirmed.
Washington and Rendon have talked on-and-off for roughly 18 months about the possibility of him signing a contract extension before he can become a free agent following the 2019 season. Both sides are open to the idea, though Rendon told NBC Sports Washington in late March talks had come to a "halt" after the Nationals made an offer following Nolan Arenado's $260 million contract extension in Colorado.
In general, clients of agent Scott Boras, which Rendon is, are unlikely to sign a contract extension. However, there is an in-house example of how such a scenario could play out. Stephen Strasburg signed an option-laden extension early in the 2016 season. Rendon has long thought to be more akin to Strasburg in general professional preferences (if extremely divergent in personality) than Bryce Harper, meaning he is not marching toward free agency with blinders on.
Rendon's simple stance on the situation is clear: if the Nationals make him what he feels is a reasonable extension offer, he will sign it. If not, he'll move to free agency. He doesn't see the process as much more complicated than that.
"If [an extension] happens, it happens," Rendon told NBC Sports Washington a few weeks ago. "If it doesn't, it doesn't."
The current talks are not surprising considering baseball's workplace climate and Rendon's previous inclination toward the idea. Lucrative contract extensions have replaced free agency as the contractual operation du jour. Last offseason's harrowing process for Manny Machado and Harper spooked several players who subsequently opted for extensions over the free market. That idea is a prevalent concern between players and owners going forward.
Specific to the Nationals, not signing Rendon to an extension -- and possibly losing him in free agency -- would become not just a field-of-play issue, but also a public relations concern. Harper signing long-term with division rival Philadelphia rankled much of the fan base. Rendon leaving would only add to that irritation.
The Nationals also don't have a clear replacement at third base. Their prospect depth -- anchored by Carter Kieboom and teenager Luis Garcia -- rests in the middle of the infield. Kieboon is at Triple-A Fresno splitting his time between shortstop and second base. Garcia has played third in the past, though he is a natural shortstop who prefers that position.
Rendon entered play Tuesday second in the National League in OPS. His early work has carried a Nationals offense that is without Trea Turner and working through an adjustment period for Juan Soto.
Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com was first to report the meeting between Rendon and general manager Mike Rizzo.
MORE NATIONALS NEWS:
- One Man Offense: Anthony Rendon is carrying Nats
- Hunting Normalcy: Nats seeking to dial it in
- No Deal: Bud Norris will not join the Nats at this time
- Power Ranks: Breaking down the early MLB hierarchy