Last week, rumors surfaced that former Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon — widely viewed as the top position player on the free-agent market this offseason — was headed to the Los Angeles Dodgers. That was when ESPN reporter Jeff Passan speculated that the Dodgers may ink Rendon to a $200 million deal. Those rumors were amplified on Wednesday by another veteran baseball “insider.”
Writing on his Twitter account, MLB Network insider Jon Heyman reported that the Dodgers — the very team defeated by the Nationals in this season’s National League Championship Series — had placed Rendon “on their radar.” Heyman added that the Dodgers had earlier been “connected” to Josh Donaldson, the 2015 American League MVP third-bagger who spent 2019 on a one-year, $23 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.
The Dodgers’ current occupant of the hot corner, Justin Turner, has said that he is willing to switch positions if the Dodgers are able to sign a top-of-the-line free-agent third baseman, Heyman also reported. Presumably Turner, at age 34, would move across the diamond to first base.
Los Angeles won 106 games in 2019, the highest win total in the 135-year history the franchise, topping the 105 games won by the then-Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953. The club has won the National League West for seven straight seasons and appeared in two of the last three World Series. But the Dodgers have not taken home the Series trophy since 1988. As a result, they are likely in the market for top free agents.
The Dodgers also have some cash to spend. They currently sport the fifth-highest payroll in Major League Baseball, and sit more than $43 million under the luxury tax cutoff of $208 million, according to figures posted by the sports business site Spotrac. They will need that financial space to fit Rendon on their payroll.
Multiple teams are now reported to be pursuing Donaldson, however, who would likely be a more economical option at third base. Even Rendon’s original team, the Nationals, were reportedly entertaining the possibility of making a play for the three-time All-Star if they are unable to re-sign the NL MVP candidate.
While Heyman was unclear on whether he believes the Dodgers are still in the hunt for Donaldson or have shifted their focus to Rendon, MLB.com reported Wednesday that no fewer than seven teams have now entered the Donaldson pursuit.
In addition to the Nationals and Dodgers, the Texas Rangers became the latest team to make a push to ink Donaldson. The Philadelphia Phillies and Donaldson’s 2019 team, the Braves, are also lining up — raising the possibility that Rendon may have to wait for a contract offer until Donaldson finds a new home for 2020 first.