Nats owner: Can’t re-sign Strasburg and Rendon

Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner is ready to say goodbye to Stephen Strasburg or Anthony Rendon. He’s still optimistic the World Series champions won’t lose both premier free agents.

Stephen Strasburg
October 4, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg (37) throws against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning in game two of the 2019 NLDS playoff baseball series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

“We really can only afford to have one of those two guys,” Lerner told NBC Sports Washington on Thursday. “They’re huge numbers. We already have a really large payroll to begin with.”

The Nationals are scheduled to have a payroll of $228 million in 2020 and last offseason lost another homegrown All-Star, Bryce Harper, to the Philadelphia Phillies.

Strasburg, 31, opted out of the final year of his contract to enter free agency. Rendon, 29, hit .319 with 34 home runs and 126 RBIs last season. He was third in National League MVP voting.

Strasburg was the No. 1 pick in the 2009 MLB Draft. He is 112-58 in 239 career starts with a 3.17 ERA. He went 18-6 with 251 strikeouts last season.

General manager Mike Rizzo reportedly has said he would like a decision from both players this week regarding their future plans.

In Harper’s case, the Nationals offered a record contract before the 2018 season ended but Harper opted to enter free agency. Without him, the Nationals survived a slow start to claim the franchise’s first World Series. Harper didn’t sign with the Phillies until the third week of spring training.

Lerner said the Nationals have working contingency plans in the event the team loses both players.

“We can give them a great offer, which we’ve done to both of those players,” Lerner said. “They’re great people. We’d be delighted if they stay. But it’s not up to us; it’s up to them. That’s why they call it free agency.”

–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)

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