Top MLB Trade Packages to Land Nationals Superstar Anthony Rendon
Despite missing 14 games with an elbow injury after a Jose Urena fastball plunked him, the 28-year-old is hitting .333/.428/.691 with nine home runs, 27 RBI and an NL-leading 17 doubles in 145 plate appearances.
With the Nationals off to a rocky 19-29 start and free agency looming for Rendon, the team could trade its most valuable asset this summer after balking at moving Bryce Harper leading up to last year's deadline.
According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, there was still a "decent-sized gap" in extension talks between Rendon and the Nationals on April 18.
During an appearance on 106.7 The Fan, general manager Mike Rizzo said the Nationals are still "aggressively trying" to sign Rendon, but nothing has come of their ongoing negotiations so far.
So with a trade still looking like a realistic outcome, we've put together five hypothetical offers from contenders that would benefit from adding Rendon.
The package the Baltimore Orioles received for Manny Machado last July served as a useful starting point, though his ability to play shortstop made him a bit more valuable.
That deal brought the O's one top-100 prospect who was generally ranked outside the top 50 (Yusniel Diaz) and four intriguing second-tier prospects. That may not seem like a lot, but for a few months of a rental player, it's a steep price.
Let's get to it.
To Milwaukee: 3B Anthony Rendon
To Washington: SS Brice Turang, LHP Aaron Ashby, C Payton Henry, RHP Marcos Diplan
The Milwaukee Brewers have gotten next to nothing from an injured Travis Shaw this season, and they showed a willingness to play musical chairs on the infield last year when they acquired Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop.
They won't include top prospect Keston Hiura in any trades this summer. He's not only a big part of the future, he's also part of the present. That makes finding a prospect centerpiece a bit tricky.
With Corey Ray off to a brutal start at Triple-A, shortstop Brice Turang is the most attractive potential headliner.
The 19-year-old already looks like a potential steal after he slipped No. 21 overall in the 2018 draft. He's hitting .303/.416/.400 with 10 extra-base hits and 12 steals at Single-A, and while he may never be a power threat, his 55-grade hit tool, plus speed and solid glove give him the assets to be an everyday shortstop.
Left-hander Aaron Ashby, the son of former big leaguer Andy Ashby, was a fourth-round pick in 2018 and has been a fast-rising prospect after a strong pro debut. With a fastball that can touch 96 mph and a nasty curveball, he has a high floor as a swing-and-miss lefty reliever. If he can refine his command and develop his average changeup into a consistent third offering, his upside as a starter is considerable.
Payton Henry would be a welcome addition to a catching-thin Nationals system. He threw out 44 percent of base stealers last season and has shown good power potential and solid on-base skills, albeit with a below-average hit tool.
Right-hander Marcos Diplan has three plus pitches that are undermined by 35-grade control. He's an intriguing flier as a reclamation project for an organization that likes to take chances on talented arms.
That's probably the best offer the Brewers can put together without sacrificing Hiura. Would it be enough?
To Minnesota: 3B Anthony Rendon
To Washington: OF Trevor Larnach, RHP Jhoan Duran, C Ryan Jeffers, IF/OF Travis Blankenhorn
The Minnesota Twins were forced to use super-utility man Marwin Gonzalez as the everyday third baseman while Miguel Sano dealt with a right foot injury. Sano has been slow to shake off the rust since returning, and Rendon would add another dimension to an already potent lineup.
Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff will both be untouchable for a rental, and the same is almost certainly true of fast-rising right-hander Brusdar Graterol, who is emerging as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
The Minnesota Twins should still be able to build an attractive trade package around outfielder Trevor Larnach.
The No. 20 overall pick in last year's draft came out of Oregon State as one of the most polished collegiate hitters in the class, and he backed that up by hitting .303/.390/.500 with 19 extra-base hits in 177 plate appearances in his pro debut. The 22-year-old was aggressively promoted to High-A to start the year where he has continued to hold his own, looking like an impact offensive player in the making.
Giving the Nationals their choice of Jhoan Duran and Lewis Thorpe, the Twins' two best pitching prospects behind Graterol, might be enough to pique interest.
Duran, 21, has more upside, with MLB.com noting he could be the "next big high-ceiling arm in the Twins system" thanks to his projectable 6'5" frame and impressive present stuff.
Adding a catcher makes sense here as well, and 2018 second-round pick Ryan Jeffers would be a great addition to the Washington farm system. The 21-year-old hit .344/.444/.502 with 24 extra-base hits in 64 games after signing last year, and he has solid receiving skills.
Taking a flier on Travis Blankenhorn, who was once one of the Twins' top prospects and is still only 22 years old, could give the Nationals a versatile utility player capable of hitting his way into the lineup if everything clicks.
Unless the Twins are willing to include Graterol, this is as good as their offer will get.
New York Yankees
To Yankees: 3B Anthony Rendon
To Washington: RHP Luis Gil, RHP Nick Nelson, OF Ryder Green, RHP Yoendrys Gomez
Ever since the New York Yankees announced Miguel Andujar would undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, they've been a popular hypothetical landing spot for Rendon.
If the Nationals value a diverse package of high-ceiling prospects, the Yankees are in the driver's seat.
Young pitchers Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Luis Medina, Roansy Contreras and Clarke Schmidt all have front-line potential. Trevor Stephan, Garrett Whitlock, Michael King and Nick Nelson are intriguing prospects in their own right. Even unpolished hard-throwers Albert Abreu and Domingo Acevedo could make an impact.
The Yankees will likely try to steer the conversation away from Garcia, who has emerged as their top pitching prospect after a breakout 2018. However, Gil might be the preferred centerpiece anyway given his dominant start to 2019.
The 20-year-old right-hander has posted a 0.82 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and a .143 BAA with 48 strikeouts in 33 innings at Single-A. His 6'3", 176-pound frame offers further projection, and he can already touch 101 mph with a fastball that he backs with a plus curve. There's a good chance he'll start popping up on leaguewide top-100 lists by midseason.
The hard-throwing Nelson has an electric four-pitch repertoire. He's already 23 years old, so he'll need to sort things out from a command standpoint soon to stick as a starter. Otherwise, he has significant upside as a late-inning reliever.
Ryder Green was a third-round pick last season, and his 55-grade power and rocket arm give him an intriguing right field profile if his hit tool develops.
Yoendrys Gomez is a 19-year-old right-hander with a ton of projection in his 6'3" frame and more upside than many of the pitching prospects we've already mentioned. He's a long way from the majors, but he's the perfect high-ceiling flier to round out the package.
To Philadelphia: 3B Anthony Rendon
To Washington: 3B Alec Bohm, C Rafael Marchan
Given their aggressive approach to the offseason, which seemed to signal an all-in mentality on this core of players, the Philadelphia Phillies are probably the team most likely to part with a true top-tier prospect for two months of Rendon.
Alec Bohm was the No. 3 overall pick in last year's draft, and he's hitting .340/.396/.556 with 22 extra-base hits this season, earning an early promotion to High-A in the process.
He was the No. 37 prospect in Bleacher Report's most recent top 50 prospects update, and he's the best chip we're offering up in any of these hypothetical trades.
If finding the best single prospect is the Nationals' goal, then the chance to acquire Bohm might be too good to pass up, even if it means trading Rendon within the NL East. Since it is an in-division trade, the asking price will likely be higher than with other teams. It's silly, but that's generally how these things work.
Spencer Howard, Luis Garcia, Adonis Medina and Adam Haseley would likely be off the table as secondary pieces, along with some of the team's more MLB-ready arms. The Nats might pry loose catching prospect Rafael Marchan, though.
The 20-year-old enjoyed a breakout 2018 season and was hitting .310/.385/.414 with six doubles through 17 games at Single-A before he landed on the injured list. His 50-grade hit tool and above-average receiving skills could make him the catcher of the future in Washington if he continues on his trajectory.
The Phillies could throw in a few low-level pieces to round out the package, but Bohm and Marchan would be the meat and potatoes of the deal.
Tampa Bay Rays
To Tampa Bay: 3B Anthony Rendon
To Washington: 2B Vidal Brujan, RHP Shane Baz
The closest thing the Tampa Bay Rays have to a star offensively is rookie Brandon Lowe. Adding Rendon to the mix and sliding Yandy Diaz over to first base would give them a game-changing bat in the middle of the lineup to help support their stacked pitching staff.
For a small-market club like the Rays, homegrown talent is the lifeblood of the organization, so they won't be quick to trade any significant future pieces.
Wander Franco is a non-starter in trade talks. Jesus Sanchez, Brendan McKay, Brent Honeywell, Matthew Liberatore, Nate Lowe and Ronaldo Hernandez should all be off limits as well.
With Brandon Lowe locked in at second base after he signed an extension this spring, Vidal Brujan could be viewed as an expendable prospect, at least in a high-profile trade for a hired gun like Rendon.
The 21-year-old is hitting .295/.366/.404 with 11 extra-base hits and 18 steals at High-A this season, and he put himself on the top-prospect radar last year when he hit .320/.403/.459 with 41 extra-base hits and 55 steals between Single-A and High-A.
With a 60-grade hit tool and 70-grade speed, Brujan has a chance to be an impact leadoff hitter, and he could be the long-term answer at second base for the Nationals.
Pairing him with right-hander Shane Baz, who the Rays acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in last summer's Chris Archer trade, might be the best prospect duo anyone is willing to offer for Rendon.
Baz, 19, was the No. 12 pick in the 2017 draft and has a chance to develop into something special.
MLB.com wrote: "With an assortment of power offerings and plenty of room to add strength to his athletic frame, Baz is a few adjustments away from becoming a top-flight pitching prospect."
So while Bohm is a better headlining piece, this package would give the Nationals a pair of fringe top-100 prospects on the rise.