Washington Nationals free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon could sign with the team that the Nats vanquished in the NL Division Series this year, the Los Angeles Dodgers — at least according to veteran ESPN Major League Baseball correspondent Jeff Passan. The reporter made the prediction on a Monday ESPN podcast, as reported by Dodgers Nation.
Passan predicted that the 29-year-old Rendon, who slammed 34 home runs and a National League-leading 44 doubles in 2019, will ink a five-year-pact in Los Angeles for a total payday of $200 million. And while the Dodgers already have Justin Turner at third base, the 35-year-old, 11-year veteran has recently expressed willingness to switch positions to make way for a Rendon signing, according to a Sports Radio 610 online report.
Rendon has played each of the last six seasons at third base for the Nationals.
If Passan's prediction is accurate, the Dodgers would pay Rendon an average of $40 million per year in salary — making him the highest-paid player in the majors, on a per-season basis. Currently, the Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout tops the list at $35,541,667 per year on average, over the course of a 12-year contract.
The Dodgers contract imagined by Passan would also outstrip the $210 million, seven-year deal — an average of $30 million per year — reportedly offered earlier this year by the Nationals, and rejected by the NL MVP candidate.
The size of that offer — $17.8 million for a single season in 2019 — is determined by the MLB collective bargaining agreement and is the average salary of the 125 highest-paid active players. Rendon has 10 days from receiving the offer to accept or reject it.
But given the amount of money he stands to make on the open market, especially if Passan's prediction is anywhere close to accurate, Rendon is expected to turn down the qualifying offer.
According to SB Nation, however, Washington will attempt to re-sign Rendon even after he inevitably declines the qualifying offer. But whether the Nationals are willing to surpass their previously reported seven-year, $210 million offer to Rendon remains unclear.
The high watermark for star third basemen is currently held by Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies, who signed an eight-year, $260 million contract just a few weeks before the 2019 season opened. But Arenado may have been able to pull in more cash on the open market. The Rockies star elected to sign an extension to his current contract with the club, rather than enter free agency.