Anthony Rendon
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Nationals to continue pursuing extension for Anthony Rendon

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The Nationals are still interested in extending long-time third baseman Anthony Rendon, general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Saturday. The club tendered a contract to Rendon and six of their other players prior to the non-tender deadline on Friday, but stand to lose their star infielder when he approaches free agency in 2020.

While any concrete negotiations appear to be a ways off, there’s no denying that the 28-year-old Rendon has provided quite a bit of value to the team over the last six seasons. He ramped up to another career-best performance in 2018 and slugged .308/.374/.535 with 24 home runs, 44 doubles, and 6.4 fWAR over 597 PA for the second-place Nationals. He’s also a force to be reckoned with at the hot corner, and was graded the fourth-most valuable third baseman in the league behind the Athletics’ Matt Chapman, Mariners’ Kyle Seager, and Rockies’ Nolan Arenado.

Exactly what kind of deal is on the table remains to be seen, though it’s been widely speculated that Rendon is in line for a big payday — perhaps something in the range of five years, $125 million — given his immense talent and relative youth. It doesn’t hurt, either, that he’ll have agent Scott Boras advocating for him when the Nationals get serious about locking him up for the next few years.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.