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Yankees Potential Free Agent Target: Anthony Rendon

It’s improbable that Rendon winds up in pinstripes, but it wouldn’t be the first time the Steinbrenners swiped a superstar

MLB: World Series-Washington Nationals at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

There are several high-profile free agents on the market currently, but one of the few not connected to the Yankees has been Anthony Rendon. The 29-year-old third baseman is coming off of the best season of his career and a World Series championship, and he has a host of suitors after him—just not the Bombers.

Now, that’s not to say that’s a surprise. The Yankees have been closely connected to the two best pitchers on the market from the onset of free agency, and recently have reportedly been tunneling in on trying to court Gerrit Cole. If there was any consideration for Rendon previously, it is clearly on the back burner as the Yankees look to lock down an ace for their staff.

Rendon is the type of hitter that the Yankees rarely let pass by without even entertaining a run at, however. He slashed .319/.412/.598 in 2019, crossing over a 1.000 OPS for the first time in his career while filling up the traditional stats as well with 44 home runs and 126 RBI. Rendon walked nearly as much as he struck out last year, and his 154 wRC+ was only second-best to Cody Bellinger in the NL. He’s an elite hitter in the prime of his career, and he could be a game-changing addition to any lineup.

Considering all of that, it’s only natural that Rendon is expected to command a massive salary. Compared to some of the mega-deals handed out to hitters recently though, it may not be as improbable as it seems to bid for Rendon. MLB Trade Rumors projects Rendon to receive a seven-year, $235 million contract and cited a report (ESPN+ paywall) from Buster Olney on Rendon potentially having a preference for a shorter length, higher AAV deal.

This would seemingly be the only way that the Yankees could enter the bidding on Rendon, since the organization has tended to stray away from the days of eight to ten year deals. It would surely push the team into the highest bracket of the luxury tax penalty, assuming a deal for Cole would be the higher priority and be completed before a pursuit of Rendon could begin. It would also bring into question whether the Yankees would offer extensions to most of their current young core. But it would definitely push the Yankees into a position of being the overwhelming favorites to win the World Series.

Recent history suggests that that hasn’t been a priority for the organization. Because of how the postseason is organized to be highly volatile and challenge the prohibitive favorites, the team has instead prioritized building a team that can compete consistently on a long-term scale and live with the odds as they lay. It would be a massive tone shift to switch towards the days of throwing big money at superstars again, but it may be considered for the right candidates.

Hal Steinbrenner has already given the OK for Brian Cashman and company to negotiate a deal with Cole that could wind up being the biggest for any pitcher in history. Plenty of people in the media have likened this chase to that of the Yankees signing CC Sabathia before the 2009 season, before they then committed to A.J. Burnett on top and swiped Mark Teixeira away from the competition when they weren’t initially in the running. If Cole is the Yankees’ new Sabathia, then Rendon could reprise Teixiera’s role of heavy-hitting star corner infielder.

Third base would be the one area where the team could arguably best use an upgrade as well. Gio Urshela had an incredible year coming out of nowhere to become an everyday starting-caliber player, and Miguel Andujar was phenomenal with the bat back in 2018, but neither player gives you the level of results that Rendon has put up for the past several seasons. It’s far from an area of need, but if you wanted to shoehorn in a free agent splash, third base would be the target.

In all likelihood, Rendon isn’t going to be playing in the Bronx next season. It would take several moves to accommodate the stress on the payroll before the team could even consider it assuming they hit on their other targets this winter. But the opportunity, however unlikely, is there for the moment.