Quick Links

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. 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Report: Phillies sign another National, bring on assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon

Report: Phillies sign another National, bring on assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon

When you win a championship the way the Nationals did, other teams are going to try and capture that magic in any way they can. 

Of course, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg are at risk of leaving town and free agency, but now the Davey Martinez will have to make changes to his coaching staff as well. 

According to Jim Salisbury, the Phillies hired Washington's assistant hitting coach Joe Dillon as their new hitting coach under manager Joe Girardi. 

Working with hitting coach Kevin Long, Dillon helped the Nationals lead the national league in on-base percentage while ranking second in batting average and OPS. 

The Phillies struggled at the plate in 2019, ranking 22nd in batting average, 19th in on-base percentage and 17th in OPS. Despite acquiring Bryce Harper, Jean Segura and JT Realmuto last offseason, Philadelphia boasted an anemic offense under former hitting coach John Mallee. 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

Season of high expectations for Phillies, Bryce Harper ends at the hands of the Nationals

Season of high expectations for Phillies, Bryce Harper ends at the hands of the Nationals

WASHINGTON -- It’s over now, all the hi-jinks, waves and hand-slapping put to rest.

The team of the offseason has been eliminated from postseason consideration. Philadelphia is out following a Tuesday afternoon 4-1 loss in Washington. It has to go 3-3 over the final six games just to be a winning club by season's end.

“We’re going to have plenty of time to reflect on the fact we didn’t get to the postseason, which was the goal and the only thing that we thought about all season long,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “We’ll get there. We’ll get to that moment of reflection. It felt some sting already, I think we’re going to continue to feel some sting.”

The anchor of Philadelphia’s offseason swell in expectations and season-ticket sales was the signing of Bryce Harper for $330 million. His free agency pursuit careened through the winter until it was finally settled in spring, Harper landing with a division rival which drove the Phillies’ payroll toward the top 10 in the league. Boisterous chatter and marketing and chants of, “We got Harper!” followed.

He went 1-for-4 Tuesday, and was not available postgame during a brief open clubhouse session typical of the time between a split doubleheader (he was expected to speak following the second game). Harper’s OPS is .872 -- trailing last season’s .889 -- and his season will end Sunday because of teamwide under-performance, injuries and dubious roster construction. 

Losing Andrew McCutchen on June 3 crashed the Phillies’ outfield options. Multiple bullpen members were hurt throughout the season. The organization also made the tactical error of investing little in starting pitching. Once Aaron Nola took a step back for most of the season, the entire rotation found trouble. Philadelphia entered the day 13th in the 15-team National League in starting pitcher ERA. 

“I think it’s a lot of things, honestly,” Rhys Hoskins said when asked to pinpoint the Phillies’ failings. “We haven’t been as consistent of a team as we hoped throughout the year. Obviously we pitched well throughout the year and we’ve hit throughout the year, but they never seemed to sync up for a long period of time. I guess that’s what I’d pin it on.”

Philadelphia also flailed in the end of last season. Back-to-back flops have put Kapler’s job status in question.

“We have games to play left, and, like I said, there’s going to be plenty of opportunity to reflect,” Kapler said. “I love this organization, I love this team specifically. I love working for this front office. I love working for this ownership group. And, look, I’m going to manage this club as long as I can because I think I give us a great chance to win, and I think because I care deeply about the success of this franchise.”

So, that’s where the Phillies are Sept. 24. Their season will end without a playoff appearance. Harper received a rare night off because whether the team wins no matter influences this year. Kapler’s job security is waffling.

All the offseason noise quietly ended during a mid-afternoon makeup game.

MORE NATIONALS NEWS: