Free agency has been the dominant (and often annoying) storyline this baseball offseason.
The Nationals were one of two teams to owe money in 2018, handing over $2.39 million for going $8 million over the limit. (The Boston Red Sox were the other. They paid $11.95 million and won the World Series.)
“We love Tony to death,” Lerner said. “He’s certainly one of the greatest players in the game today. He’s an even finer person. His activities with the youth baseball academy back in D.C. are phenomenal. He does it under the radar. It’s very important to him. Just a great example of the way a professional athlete should conduct himself. Like I said, he’s one of my favorites for a reason.”
The Nats' 28-year-old is one of the many players represented by Boras and whether he would be willing sign an extension before entering free agency remains to be seen.
"If we can come to terms where both sides are happy, I mean, why wouldn't you take that, you know? If you feel like your value is getting appreciated and they're on the same page, then, I mean, what's the issue?" Rendon said.
"The game is in a better place when you have teams that are competing, off the field as well, to try to put together the best rosters that they possibly can," he said.
A disinterest in winning is not a charge levied against the Nationals, with Doolittle calling them "an exception" to that growing trend. And Lerner said Friday, "Our philosophy has never changed but, certainly, our goal is to make the playoffs and hopefully deep into the playoffs."
But, of course, financials come into play when making decisions about free agents.
Pinching pennies could mean some tough decisions for the Nationals. And the growing number of teams not interested in winning could also lead to increased frustration among the players and potentially a work stoppage.
Walking away from the game is a decision Rendon has contemplated before.
"My identity is not in baseball. So, if any point in time where, you know, I'm not appreciated and I'm not being compensated for it, or if baseball has been taken away from me and I have to go back home," Rendon told 106.7 The Fan. "And the fact that I'm not looking for happiness in this sport, so I can go home and be perfectly fine without having baseball."