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Report: Phillies plan to 'strongly pursue' Anthony Rendon

Report: Phillies plan to 'strongly pursue' Anthony Rendon

A year after the Phillies signed Bryce Harper away from the Nationals with a 13-year $330 million contract, it appears they're planning to go after another one of their star position players. 

According to Bob Nightengale, the Phillies plan to 'strongly pursue' Anthony Rendon in free agency with Josh Donaldson as their backup plan at third base. 

The Phillies have yet to meet face-to-face with Rendon according to the report. 

Rendon is expected to sign a contract close to the eight-year $260 million deal Nolan Arenado signed with the Rockies a year ago. The Phillies signed Zach Wheeler to a five-year $118 million contract earlier this week, and signing Rendon would likely vault them into the luxury tax. 

According to Nightengale, their owner John Middleton's aggressiveness in free agency has not been deterred by that fact. 

On Thursday, Nationals owner Mark Lerner explained how the team can't afford to bring back both Rendon and Stephen Strasburg. The Phillies have also had reported interest in Strasburg to add to their rotation. 

If Rendon signs elsewhere, say the Rangers or Dodgers, Philly's backup plan of Donaldson would pit them against the Nationals once again. Washington is reportedly eyeing Donaldson as well if they don't bring back Rendon. 

The Winter Meetings begin in just a few days and as division rivals like the Braves and Phillies make moves to go after the Nationals next season, the defending champs will have to maneuver their free-agent negotiations with seemingly more budgetary restrictions. 

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Anthony Rendon's best options and the chances he returns to the Nationals

Anthony Rendon's best options and the chances he returns to the Nationals

Discussions and speculation surrounding how the Nationals will look on Opening Day of their first World Series title defense begin and end with free agents Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon. 

Considered two of the top three players available along with Astros pitcher Gerrit Cole, Rendon and Strasburg will both command massive paydays wherever they decide to sign. 

To this point, reports have suggested a marriage between Strasburg and the Nationals could happen as soon as the start of the winter meetings. 

But what about Rendon? Jesse Daugherty of the Washington Post and Jamal Collier of MLB.com joined Todd Dybas on the Nationals Talk Podcast to break down his best options and the level of interest he could have in returning to DC. 

"I think the one most intriguing option for me that seems to make sense is that Justin Turner has said he'll move off third [base] for LA [Dodgers] and the Dodgers are known to offer low-year, high AAV deals which is something that probably seems attractive to Rendon, who has told us many a time he'd like to retire by 35," Daugherty said. 

If we can take Rendon's word on retiring at 35, this contract may be his last. One major hurdle for him could be the depth at third base across the league, especially on contending teams. 

"Most teams don't need [a third baseman]," Daugherty said. "The Phillies need one, the Braves need one, I guess the Dodgers need one if Turner's willing to move, but [the third base market] really is hard for me to gauge."

Meanwhile, Collier speculates that a natural fit for Rendon would be his home-town team. 

"A team that potentially could be a player for Rendon and one that makes a lot of sense is Texas [Rangers]," Collier said. "Obviously the home state, coming into a new ballpark, they should have money to spend, and I think it's a place that he would want to play at."

Every player wants to get paid, but there are often intangible factors that convince them to take a discount. Whether it's comfortability, saving your owner money to keep a contender together or playing close to home, not every player is won over by a huge contract offer. 

While that may be the case with Strasburg, it doesn't appear Rendon puts as much stock in those things. 

"All those things we said about Strasburg in the comfort and the idea that he likes it [in Washington], I think those things are also true for Rendon," Collier said. "I think if all things were equal, I think the Nats would hold some sort of tiebreaker over most teams. The comfort of DC is probably in his factors but probably won't weigh as heavily as it will with Strasburg. 

"The money has to be equal if the Nats are going to be there," Collier said. 

So no matter how much the Nationals may want to bring both Rendon and Strasburg back for a team-friendly price, they'll have to play by the same rules as everyone else. 

If they don't want to pay up for Rendon, their options to replace him are notably slim. 

"Someone is going to throw a lot of money to Rendon," Collier said. "He’s been a 5, 6 win player per season and probably will be for the next few years. One of the best players in baseball is going to get some play, but not sure where."

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MLB Rumors: When Mike Rizzo reportedly wants a decision from Anthony Rendon

MLB Rumors: When Mike Rizzo reportedly wants a decision from Anthony Rendon

Mike Rizzo has done plenty of celebrating over the last five weeks. 

His Nationals won the World Series in an epic seven-game clash with the Astros, and then came away with the Executive of the Year award on Tuesday. 

But with the Winter Meetings coming up, it's time to get back to work, and the entire landscape of this free agent class revolves around Washington's two stars in Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg. 

Plenty has been reported about where each player's interests lie and what teams are gunning for these two postseason heroes. Whether it's the Yankees, Dodgers, Padres, etc., the Nationals have serious competition to keep any one of them.  Now it's time for them to zero in on a team and make a decision. 

Given the number of needs the Nationals have throughout their roster, they'll need to figure out when to pivot if one of those two players doesn't return.  

According to Jayson Stark, the Nationals aren't willing to wait very long on Rendon.

This might be tricky since his agent is Scott Boras, who's notorious for long negotiations to get his client's the most money he can. 

A similar situation played out last winter with Bryce Harper. Harper was the prized free agent, the Nationals weren't all that willing to wait and he ended up signing with the Phillies midway through spring training. 

Regarding Stark's mentioning of Josh Donaldson, Mike Moustakas, a potential infield target for the Nationals signed with the Reds on Monday. So if the Nats aren't getting Rendon back, they probably want to know as soon as possible. 

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