Washington third baseman Anthony Rendon became a free agent Thursday, a day after homering to spark the Nationals’ seventh-inning comeback in Game 7 of the World Series.
Houston pitcher Gerrit Cole also went free after warming up in the bullpen but never getting into the season finale.
And Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the World Series MVP, could be joining them in the next few days. He has the right to opt out of his contract, which has $100 million over four years left.
“I think it’s hard to kind of fast-forward,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “Seasons end really fast. I don’t care if you get all the way to the seventh game of the World Series. It’s all of a sudden — boom! — it’s over.” Cole, Rendon and Strasburg all are represented by Scott Boras, known for slow, methodical negotiations. Last winter, he got outfielder Bryce Harper‘s $330 million, 13-year contract with Philadelphia on Feb. 28.
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Teams must resolve by Monday whether to make $17.8 million qualifying offers to their former players who became free agents.
Players are eligible for the offer if they were on the roster for the season and never received a qualifying offer before. The price dropped for the first time, by $100,000, following a second straight slow offseason for roster moves.
He had just helped deliver the first championship in Nationals history, and the team’s general manager, Mike Rizzo, said Rendon looked as nonchalant as he would in an exhibition game in March.
After all the Nationals had endured, Rendon conceded, they simply could not have faced a different ending. There were no bullets flying, of course, but the psychic wounds would have lingered. “It definitely would have been my worst nightmare if we’d come all the way to play the last game of the season and we lose,” Rendon said. “To actually come out on top, it was worth it.”