Anthony Rendon rumors: Five teams that could — and should — sign the star third baseman

Sporting News

Anthony Rendon might not stop popping champagne bottles anytime soon.

Coming off a World Series performance that was one for the ages, the current free agent (and potentially former) Nationals third baseman is going to have some decisions to make this offseason. The first is deciding whether to accept the qualifying offer from the Nationals. The second will be deciding on a new team should he turn that offer down.

One way or the other, it seems like Rendon is destined for free agency. Should he decide to move on from Washington — or Washington move on from him — here are five teams that could use Rendon's services.

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MORE: Six logical landing spots for Madison Bumgarner

New York Mets

Current third basemen: Jeff McNeil, J.D. Davis

It would be a mistake for the Mets to do anything with Jeff McNeil that doesn't involve him on the roster, so let's get that out of the way. McNeil shouldn't go anywhere given his contact-hitting ability, contract and solid defense wherever you play him.

That said, no one is more familiar with Anthony Rendon's domination than the Mets, against whom Rendon slashed .319/.388/.550 in 110 career games. He also belted 21 home runs in that span, so he's made something of a living destroying Mets pitching, which has been pretty good over the past few years.

While the Mets have a top third base prospect in waiting in Brett Baty, their window is now, so they can't continue to wait around for Baty to reach the majors, as the pitching won't be around forever. Also, the front office should be doing everything in its power to help rookie manager Carlos Beltrán succeed in his first season at the helm — that means spend, spend, spend.

Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said the team boasts the "financial capability" to go after stars like Rendon and Gerrit Cole, but capability doesn't mean willingness. While offense wasn't their issue in 2019, they could certainly use another legitimate power bat in the lineup to help protect against another down year from Robinson Canó. By the way, has anyone seen Yoenis Céspedes?

Milwaukee Brewers

Current third basemen: Travis Shaw

Travis Shaw had a really terrible year last season for the Brewers, hitting just .157 in 86 games and worth -0.9 bWAR in that span. Shaw, 29, is still under contract with Milwaukee and won't be a free agent for a few years, but he may move to first base full time in 2020, should the Crew decide to keep him around. Eric Thames' option was declined and the options at first base this offseason aren't exactly numerous.

There aren't a lot of other options at the major league level for Milwaukee. Mike Moustakas is a free agent after turning down his option, and is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. He could be in play to stay in a Brewers uniform this upcoming season,

The Brewers aren't afraid of spending money per se, but the contract that Rendon could demand would be far and away the richest free-agent deal Milwaukee has ever handed out. It would be a change in approach after signing Moustakas to a one-year deal, that's for sure, but Rendon would be the best hot-corner option either in-house or on the market.

By the way, the Brewers — or any other team — shouldn't be scared of the pricetag. Rendon would be worth every penny.

Atlanta Braves

Current third basemen: Austin Riley, Johan Camargo

The Braves dipped their toe into free agency last offseason, and then felt how cold the water was and jumped out and ran away. They still came out of it with Josh Donaldson — one-year deal — and Nick Markakis — one-year deal (with a team option).

But Akin to the Mets, if there's any team that knows how dominant Rendon can be, it's the Braves. Now, with a potential hole at third base, the Braves could try to bring back Donaldson, or slot Austin Riley at third (he came up as a third baseman) or turn to the 29-year-old Rendon to fill the void.

It certainly feels like a time when Atlanta should put a bit more money in its squad, and adding Rendon would be a nice jolt to the system.

New York Yankees

Current third basemen: Miguel Andujar, Gio Urshela

OK, so here's the thing: This is about trust for 2019.

  • Do the Yankees trust that Miguel Andujar will come back fully healthy and perform to his 2017 self?

  • Do the Yankees trust that Andujar's glove will be improved?

  • Do the Yankees trust that Gio Urshela's rennaissance will continue in 2020?

The window for the World Series is now for New York, and after two straight unsatisfactory exits in the postseason — and two good but not flashy offseasons — maybe ownership is antsy and ready to make a splash.

Rendon is, historically, a better defender than Urshela, and while Urshela had something of a miraculous season for the Yankees in 2019 he was worth 3.4 bWAR/3.1 fWAR as opposed to Rendon's 6.3 bWAR/7.0 fWAR.

The Yankees were reportedly hot on Nolan Arenado before he signed his mega-extension with Colorado, and while Arenado is the better all-around player compared with Rendon, maybe New York still feels the need to improve third base this offseason. Signing Rendon would make Andujar and Urshela expendable, and trade chips for more help, whether it's in the rotation or elsewhere on the roster. Besides, it should be every team's philosophical goal to add as many good players as possible. Brian Cashman has always lived by that creed.

The question for the Yankees is whether they'll be willing to spend some money on a free agent. That hasn't been the case in recent years, and with upcoming contract extensions on the docket for Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and others, they could reallocate money back into players already here.

St. Louis Cardinals

Current third basemen: Matt Carpenter

The Cardinals aren't typically one to make big splashes in free agency, but a few years ago they were willing to add a large chunk of money to the payroll by way of Giancarlo Stanton before that deal fell apart.

Third base was a dark spot for St. Louis last season, and their somewhat surprising run to the NLCS shouldn't mask the fact that the Redbirds need help offensively. With Marcell Ozuna hitting the market as well, St. Louis is going to need another bat somewhere to help pair with Paul Goldschmidt in the middle of the lineup.

The Cardinals were among the worst in the NL in many offensive categories in 2019: runs (10th), home runs (12th), OPS (11th). Inconsistencies doomed them all season, but if they want to repeat as NL Central champs in 2020, then it starts and finishes with the offense. Their pitching will be fine, as they featured one of the best bullpens all season, and with Jack Flaherty as the emerging ace, their rotation is solid.

The question remains: Where would Matt Carpenter play? He's versatile enough to play in other spots in the infield, but with Goldschmidt at first, Kolten Wong at second and at least another $37 million coming Carpenter's way, it's tough to see where else his future would be. Still, adding Rendon is an upgrade, and the Cardinals shouldn't shy away from it.

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