The Los Angeles Angels made the franchise-altering decision to sign Anthony Rendon to a seven-year deal worth $245 million after he had led the Nationals to a World Series championship in 2019. The deal made sense at the time, as Rendon was another superstar the Angels surrounded alongside Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. The problem is, things haven't worked out close to the way anyone had envisioned.
Rendon played well in the shortened 2020 season, but since then, it's been a disaster. Rendon has played just 148 total games since the start of 2021, and has suffered season-ending injuries in each of the last three seasons. When Rendon has played, his production has suffered. His 94 OPS+ has him as a below-average hitter, and his defense was putrid this past season as he committed eight errors in just 43 games played.
Rendon's behavior off the field has made the situation even worse for this Angels team. With him on their payroll for another three seasons at a whopping sum of money, there's no way out of this deal. Keeping Rendon on board is the only option, but the Angels appear to once again be committing to him as an everyday player, which will only set them up for disappointment.
Keeping Anthony Rendon around is a no-brainer due to his contract, but the Angels must add a viable backup
In his latest article for The Athletic (subscription required), Sam Blum broke down the Rendon situation. Ron Washington spoke with the third baseman, and Perry Minasian once again expressed confidence in him.
"“I mean, yeah,” Angels GM Perry Minasian said when asked if Rendon will be the everyday third baseman. “I know the last three years have been really tough for him. And I get it. He’s had a lot of injuries. He knows that. We are a significantly better club with him on the field.
“Yes. I expect him to be our third baseman. I expect him to play every day.”"
Minasian is not wrong in saying the Angels are significantly better with Rendon on the field. Even amidst his struggles, Rendon is still a player who hits consistently in the clutch and can get on base at a high level. Even this past season, Rendon had a .361 OBP and an .843 OPS with runners in scoring position even if his power and overall production went down. The problem is, he's almost never on the field to showcase that talent.
The Angels do have Luis Rengifo available to them to be his backup, but not only is third base not his primary position, but Rengifo is also penciled into the every day lineup for now until the Angels sign a bat.
Counting on Anthony Rendon to get a bulk of the playing time when healthy makes sense. He's good enough to not have a negative impact when he does play, and the contract makes it to where he virtually has to play for the Angels to get anything out of it. What must be done, however, is Minasian bringing in an external option to be Rendon's backup.
The Angels traded for Gio Urshela and used him all over the diamond until Rendon got hurt the first time. That was a great move, as Gio was able to step right in at third base and give the Angels everyday production. That worked out great until his season-ending injury. Urshela is now a free agent, so the Angels must find someone to take that role. Relying on Anthony Rendon to play more than 50 games is setting the Angels up for failure. Perry Minasian has to know that.