The defending champions brought back one of their marquee free agents Monday but reportedly aren't confident they will re-sign the other.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the Washington Nationals "don't seem confident" they will re-sign third baseman Anthony Rendon. The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers are "seen as the favorites" for the slugger at this point.
Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise the Nationals are feeling lukewarm about their chances to bring back Rendon after re-signing Strasburg since managing principal owner Mark Lerner said, "We can really only afford to have one of those two guys" during an interview with Donald Dell (h/t Todd Dybas of NBC Sports Washington).
"They're huge numbers," he added. "We already have a really large payroll to begin with."
However, it should be noted Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said there is interest in bringing Rendon back, per TR Sullivan of MLB.com.
Agent Scott Boras did not buy Lerner's payroll concerns and told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, "The Nationals are experiencing a revenue festival in 2020. ... The franchise value has increased by nearly $2 billion since their purchase. The Nationals made an extra $30 million winning the World Series. Attendance will increase by more than four to five hundred thousand. TV rating and advertising rates all skyrocketed."
In September, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post reported the Nationals offered Rendon a seven-year contract extension worth between $210 million and $215 million. The fact he didn't accept it could lend insight into the type of money he is looking for as a free agent.
Rendon figures to sign a massive contract with a team considering he is just 29 years old and coming off his first All-Star season in which he slashed .319/.412/.598 with 34 home runs. He led the league with 44 doubles and 126 RBI.
It was his fourth straight year with 20 or more home runs and second straight year leading the league in doubles.
What's more, Rendon was brilliant in the playoffs for the World Series champions and slashed .328/.413/.590 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 17 games.