The Los Angeles Angels have agreed to sign third baseman Anthony Rendon to a seven-year deal worth $245 million on Wednesday night at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, CBS Sports HQ's Jim Bowden confirmed. The deal includes no deferred money, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. Rendon, 29 and going into his age-30 season, had spent the entirety of his career with the Nationals since being drafted sixth overall in 2011.
This past season, Rendon batted .319/.412/.598 (153 OPS+) with 34 home runs and 44 doubles in 146 games with almost as many walks as strikeouts. Across parts of seven major-league seasons, Rendon owns an OPS+ of 126. Over the last three seasons combined, Rendon has an OPS+ of 143, and that's the level of production in tandem with his solid defense at the hot corner for which the Angels are paying.
Last season, the Angels received poor production from the position, as six different third basemen combined for a slash line of .243/.306/.345 with 13 home runs. Rendon, to say the least, promises a massive upgrade over those numbers. The Angels earlier this week cleared the decks (and about $13 million on their payroll) for a new third baseman when they dealt Zack Cozart and his contract to the Giants.
The Angels had been heavily pursuing right-hander Gerrit Cole, with the Yankees. After missing out on Cole, though, the Angels quickly pivoted to Rendon, the other premier free agent remaining. While the Angels' rotation remains a major concern, even after the recent trade for Dylan Bundy, the addition of Rendon moves the needle in a substantial way and adds another big bat to go alongside reigning AL MVP Mike Trout.
Owner Arte Moreno wanted to spend big to put a competitive roster around Trout and at the disposal of new manager Joe Maddon. Cole was the "priority item" given that the Angels had one of the worst rotations in baseball last season, but as consolation prizes go Rendon is an impressive one.
Now for some things to know about the Angels' successful bid for Rendon.
Rendon's contract is the 10th biggest in MLB history
While it's not the biggest of the last 24 hours, Rendon's is among the 10 biggest in MLB history, and that's counting free-agent contracts and extensions. At the top of the list is Rendon's new teammate Trout with his $426.5 million extension. Rendon is presently in 10th place -- tied with former Nationals teammate Stephen Strasburg, just behind Alex Rodriguez and his Rangers contract, and just ahead of teammate Albert Pujols, who inked a $240 million pact with the Angels prior to the 2012 season. Rendon's contract also gives him the highest average annual value for a third baseman in MLB history.
It's been a good winter for Scott Boras
Some would attest that the superagent Boras had lost his fastball over the last two offseasons. That was of course a league-wide trend, as markets were slow to develop. This winter, though, Boras has reasserted himself as being at the top of his field. Boras clients Strasburg, Cole, and now Rendon have combined to sign for $814 million, all in the span of three days or so. Another big-name Boras client, lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, may soon ink a nine-figure deal.
The Angels' lineup will be an impressive one
Last season, the Angels ranked seventh in the AL in runs scored despite playing in a home ballpark that works against the offense. Add Rendon to that lineup, and you're talking about perhaps a top-four offense in the junior circuit. Right now, here's how it figures to go by position:
C - Max Stassi
1B - Tommy La Stella-Albert Pujols
2B - David Fletcher
3B - Anthony Rendon
SS - Andrelton Simmons
LF - Justin Upton
CF - Mike Trout
RF - Brian Goodwin
DH - Shohei Ohtani
Rendon, as noted, addresses a major weak spot, and relegating Pujols to the non-primary half of a first base platoon should also help matters. As well, top prospect Jo Adell could arrive in fairly early in 2020 and be an All-Star caliber outfield complement to Trout (Adell is No. 2 on R.J. Anderson's top 50 prospects list). The Halos will score some runs.
The Angels had company in pursuit of Rendon
The Dodgers and Rangers had also been linked to Rendon, but the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant reoprted that the Rangers bowed out of the running for him on Wednesday night. As for the Dodgers, their willingness to pay these rates given the emphasis on payroll efficiency under Andrew Friedman was always suspect. The Phillies had also been mentioned in connection with Rendon, but their signings of Zack Wheeler and Didi Gregorius took them out of the running.
The Angels' rotation still needs help
To repeat, the Angels initially targeted Cole because their rotation was sorely lacking. Last season, the Angels ranked last in the AL in rotation ERA (yes, behind even the Orioles). They also ranked 14th out of 15 teams in FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, which is what a pitcher's -- or team's -- ERA would probably look like with league-average defensive support and neutral luck. The Halo rotation also ranked last in the AL in innings per start and a distant last in quality start percentage (they logged a quality start just 14 percent of the time, while the Tigers and Blue Jays were next worst at 25 percent).
Sure, Bundy theoretically helps that situation, and there's hope for improvement from Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning. As well, Patrick Sandoval and Jose Suarez have some upside. All that said, the Angels could definitely use a known quantity in that mix. Ryu, Madison Bumgarner, or Dallas Keuchel would each be an ideal fit, but is Moreno willing to pay the going rates after paying $245 million for Rendon? We'll see soon enough.
For now, the Angels can relish in landing the best free agent hitter of the 2019-20 free-agent class.