MLB’s Third Base Market is Heating Up

  • Rendon now top free agent available
  • Donaldson a hot commodity on the open market
  • Cubs continue to listen on Bryant
  • Are the Rockies listening on Arenado?

The 2019-20 MLB offseason is moving at a rapid pace, especially when we compare it to the glacier-like speed of the past few offseasons.

Some high-end pitchers are off the board and some positions – such as catcher – have seen significant movement as well in free agency at this point.

However, the third base position is set to dominate the headlines moving forward as there is plenty of intrigue surrounding names both on the free agent market and the trading block as well.

Let’s take a look into four storylines surrounding the third base position at this point in time.

Rendon Now Top Free Agent Available

You might have heard that the New York Yankees opened the vault and signed Gerrit Cole to a nine-year, $324M contract on Tuesday. It’s the richest contract in MLB history in terms of average annual value and only surpassed in total dollars by the $330M contract Bryce Harper signed with the Phillies just prior to the 2019 season.

With fellow starter Stephen Strasburg re-signing with the Nationals on Monday, the free agent market is now headlined by third baseman Anthony Rendon.

Rendon, 29, hit .319 with a 1.010 OPS, 34 homers, a 154 wRC+ and 7.0 fWAR in the 2019 season. His 13.2 fWAR over the last two seasons is the fifth-best mark in baseball among positions players.

Needless to say, this man is going to get paid.

The Nationals would seemingly be out of the running at this point as owner Marc Lerner told the Washington Post last week that the team can “really only afford to sign one of the two” when asked if the Nats can afford to reunite with both Strasburg and Rendon.

In the end, the Nationals seemed more eager to continue to sports a dominant rotation, especially in case Max Scherzer continues to deal with back issues that slowed his age-34 season down into August and September.

The Phillies, Braves, Rangers and Angels – with their trade of third baseman Zack Cozart to the Giants creating $13M in salary relief – are all going to be in the mix. Justin Turner is reportedly open to switching positions to allow the Dodgers to pursue Rendon as well.

The Dodgers, Phillies and Braves all sit within the top five World Series odds as per BetOnline, while the Angels (+2500) and Rangers (+5000) would get big boosts to their value if they could indeed land Rendon’s services.

Donaldson a Hot Commodity

Teams that miss out on Rendon, or simply prefer a short-term, cheaper contract, will certainly be interested in getting their hands on Josh Donaldson.

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That’s not to say Donaldson won’t do well for himself in free agency.

After a season in which he clubbed 37 home runs while producing a .900 OPS, 132 wRC+ and 4.9 fWAR on a one-year deal with the Braves, there is growing expectation that he will end up landing a four-year deal in free agency this time around, as per MLB.com’s Mark Bowman.

You can add the Nationals to the list of teams above that would be interested in a pact with the 2015 AL MVP thanks to the far less significant financial obligation that would be required.

Still, it appears that Donaldson will have his choice when it comes to where he wants to play the 2020 season.

Cubs Continue to Listen on Bryant

The Cubs have been widely expected to “re-tool” this offseason after falling well short of expectations after their 2016 World Series championship.

As a result, Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras have seen their names appear in trade rumors so far this winter.

The added wrinkle with Bryant, however, is the ongoing grievance he has with the Cubs over potential service time manipulation dating back to his rookie season in 2015.

After sending him to Triple-A out of spring training and brining him up to the big leagues one day after he would have accumulated a full season’s worth of service time, the Cubs delayed Bryant’s free agency by a year.

While a Bryant victory in the grievance is viewed as unlikely, interested clubs would certainly want to know if Bryant is a free agent after the upcoming 2020 season or after the 2021 season.

Nonetheless given the talent level and ability to play both third base and the outfield corners, it’s no surprise that there are going to be multiple teams interested in his services.

Odds Spin

At this point, the Cubs’ +2000 World Series odds don’t appear appealing in the least.

They have a clear motive to re-tool and slash payroll and any deal for Bryant would be a forward-thinking move. The Cubs have a thin farm system and would likely want to shop Bryant to a team like the Braves or Dodgers – both of which could use a third baseman and own prospect-rich systems.

Along with losing Cole Hamels in free agency, I’m passing on the Cubs at this point.

Rockies Listening on Arenado?

The most surprising nugget in the third-base stratosphere right now is the recent report that the Rockies are willing to listen to trade inquiries on superstar third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Arenado has a full no-trade clause as part of his mega extension he signed in February, and while a move in seen as unlikely, the Rockies are apparently willing to hear teams out.

Coming off a season in which he slashed .315/.379/.583 with 41 home runs, a .962 OPS, 128 wRC+ and 5.9 fWAR, Arenado clearly represents a play that would require a king’s ransom to acquire, even with $234M and seven years remaining on his contract.

At 28, there would still be plenty in the tank for Arenado throughout the term of his current deal.

Odds Spin

On the heels of a disastrous 2019 season, the Rockies currently sit with +4000 World Series OddsL.

Considering the depth of contenders in the NL and the fact that the Rockies finished 20 games under .500, their current odds aren’t worth a look with or without a trade of Arenado.

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Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.