Maybe the Twins Should Go All in On Anthony Rendon
Image courtesy of © Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsObviously, this all hinges on how the organization views the immediate future of Miguel Sano. He’s the current starter at the hot corner and is coming off a .923 OPS during his age-26 season. The Dominican native is under team control for each of the next two seasons, and the expectation would be that his salary remains under $10 million before hitting the open market. Rocco Baldelli has an opening at first base if the club decides to non-tender C.J. Cron, and it’s always been assumed that Sano would be better off switching sides on the diamond.
Assume Miguel moves and vacates the hot corner, the timing may never be better. Rendon will play 2020 as a 30-year-old and is coming off an MVP caliber season. He posted a 1.010 OPS and launched a career high 34 home runs. Even with some regression, Rendon hasn’t posted an OPS below .900 since 2016. He’s consistently been a 6 WAR player and generates production through both offensive and defensive excellence.
In his final year of arbitration Rendon made $18.8 million for the Nationals. Fangraphs has valued his production as being worth roughly $50 million annually since 2016, and he hasn’t been worth less than $34 million since 2015. The open market isn’t going to pay him that handsomely but expecting a 5-7 year deal that checks in between $25-30 million on a yearly basis seems more than doable. Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado would be the only third basemen paid above Rendon, and that seems like a pretty fair place for him to slot into the leaderboard.
The downside to this argument is that Minnesota should be throwing a good deal of their cash at arms. If we assume they have something like $70 million to spend, chopping that almost in half by inking a position player isn’t a great use of funds. However, there’re only so many pitchers on the open market worthy of the big-time payday. Should Minnesota miss on Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg, I’d expect only Zack Wheeler to surpass the $20 million mark. That means the Twins could sign a very good arm and still accommodate a contract enticing to Rendon.
By no means should the assumption or expectation be that the front office prioritizes a third basemen. Even if there’s a desire to move Sano defensively, other more economical options exist. If the goal is to raise the overall talent level to the highest possible extent though, adding a superstar like Rendon certainly bridges the gap between a superstar pitcher and just a middle of the rotation arm.
It’s hard to project the Twins as a serious player any time we’re talking about the best player on the market types, but we’ve entered the territory where the organization is ready to compete and do so at a World Series worthy level.
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