Anthony Rendon
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Report: Nationals offer Anthony Rendon $210-215 million deal

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Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reports that, sometime in early September, the Washington Nationals made star third baseman and free-agent-to-be Anthony Rendon a seven-year deal worth between $210-215 million. Svrluga says that deal is not expected to keep Rendon from exploring the market after he’s officially a free agent next month.

Before assessing this offer, it’s worth remembering that this is very similar to what happened with Bryce Harper last year. Then, in early November, a report came out — from the same reporter — that the Nationals had, a couple of months earlier, made an “aggressive” offer to Harper. It was eventually revealed that the deal was massively backloaded and not worth nearly that which Harper ultimately received in real dollars from the Phillies. In hindsight it all seemed orchestrated by the Nationals to feign interest in Harper and be able to say, later, if fans got mad, “hey, we tried.”

This one seems a bit different than that. Svrluga, an excellent reporter and well-aware of the Harper thing, notes up front that this deal, while somewhat backloaded, is nowhere near as backloaded as Harper’s deal was. It’s also the case that the ultimately outlay to Rendon is going to be way less than it was for Harper given his age compared to Harper (Rendon turns 30 next season), and it’s not like the Nationals haven’t given out big contracts in the recent past. They certainly have. So, no, the story isn’t “the Nationals are cheap and they’re pretending to want to keep Rendon.” They seem more committed to Rendon than Harper in a lot of says.

But it is weird that, for the second year in a row, someone with the Nationals — and I strongly suspect this is a Nats leak as opposed to a Rendon/Scott Boras leak — felt it necessary to do this and it makes me wonder why they’d do this. Especially given that in less than 12 hours Rendon and the Nationals are going to be playing in the Wild Card game.

If Rendon stays in Washington we’ll likely hear no more of this offer again. If he leaves, I suspect someone will talk about it later in the offseason just as they did with Harper’s offer, giving us some more insight into how the Nats front office operation works.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: