Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon is due a $6.5 million salary bump in 2019 after settling with the club prior to Friday’s arbitration deadline. Per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the two avoided arbitration on a one-year, $18.8 million deal.
This marked the final year of arbitration eligibility for Rendon. The 28-year-old infielder rounded out his sixth season with the team in 2018, batting .308/.374/.535 with 24 home runs, a career-high 44 doubles, a .909 OPS, and 6.3 fWAR through 597 plate appearances. While he’s currently positioned to enter free agency in advance of the 2020 season, there have been plenty of rumors suggesting that a sizable extension is in the works — perhaps something in the neighborhood of seven years and $163+ million. At the very least, it appears to be an agreement both sides are open to discussing in the nine or so months leading up to the 2019 offseason, though nothing is expected to be even close to finalized until Bryce Harper‘s future is decided.
The Nationals also settled with shortstop Trea Turner ($3.725M), right-hander Joe Ross ($1M), and left-handed reliever Sammy Solis ($850K). They’re likely to go to arbitration with outfielder Michael A. Taylor and right-handed reliever Kyle Barraclough, neither of whom settled with the club this week.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.