Anthony Rendon: To Extend, or Not To Extend; That is the Question!

We have a great third basemen; among the best in the game, and his name is Anthony Rendon of the Washington Nationals. He is going to be a free agent if he is not locked by the end of October and signed to a long term extension.

That was top of mind about Ryan Zimmerman after his age 26 season in 2011. He had two years left before becoming a FA, and the Lerner family did not waste any time in locking him up before he reached his “walk year”. Zim signed an extension entering the 2012 season that locked him up thru the 2019 season with a team option for 2020. Rendon could be looking at a similar situation as he enters his age-29 season.

Everyone loves that contract now, right?????

The clamor to extend Anthony Rendon now is very similar to the feelings among fans way back when. The big difference of course is that Zimmerman was perhaps the only great player, let alone star, on the team; the Nationals did have two #1 picks (guys named Strasburg and Harper) that were expected to be significant upgrades.

Rendon has a much better team surrounding him and is incredibly well liked by fans; just like Zimmerman, who was clearly recognized as the FOF and the best player on the team.

According to BBREF, here are a subset of Zim’s numbers before his extension that added 6 years to his contract, resulting in an 8 year contract thru his age 34 season.

Standard Batting – Ryan Zimmerman
2009 24 157 694 610 33 72 119 .292 .364 .525 .888 133 *5/D AS,MVP-25,GG,SS
2010 25 142 603 525 25 69 98 .307 .388 .510 .899 142 *5/D MVP-16,SS
2011 26 101 440 395 12 41 73 .289 .355 .443 .798 118 5/D
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 2/27/2019.

And here are Rendon’s for the 3 prior years assuming he is signed to an extension.

Standard Batting – Anthony Rendon
2016 26 156 647 567 20 65 117 .270 .348 .450 .797 108 *5
2017 27 147 605 508 25 84 82 .301 .403 .533 .937 139 *5 MVP-6
2018 28 136 597 529 24 55 82 .308 .374 .535 .909 137 *5 MVP-11
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 2/27/2019.

Their numbers look pretty comparable? Don’t they? Especially when you consider that Ryan had no one in the line-up to protect him.

It is worth noting that Zimmerman only played 101 games in 2011 because of an injury sliding into second base. A freak injury that was not a sign of his injury problems over the next few years. If we knew then, what we know now, would that extension have been offered?

Recent comments have indicated support for a 6 or 7 year (and even longer) extension for Rendon with an AAV between 25 and 30K which is 10% to 20% below the deal that Nolan Arenado just signed. While Rendon compares favorably to Arenado, Tony is not the face of his franchise like Arenado.

Given that third base is a more demanding position from the perspective of defense (vs say 1B or corner OF), it is worth considering both the upside and the downside of extensions thru a player’s age 34 season (e.g., Zimmerman). A 7 year contract (6 year extension) would be through Rendon’s age 35 season.

My personal opinion is that Rendon should be extended. If the extension is going to be for 6 or 7 additional years, I would prefer a front loaded contract with an AAV in the low to mid 20s.

Some believe that the Rendon talks are waiting for after Bryce Harper signs his deal, and Rendon has said that the team can keep discussing an extension into the season. Rendon has said he would consider an extension and like it in D.C. where he also serves as the player rep for the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy.

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