Is Anthony Rendon’s contract making Angels hesitant to sign top free agent pitchers?

The Angels may have good reason to stay away from Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell.
Los Angeles Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon
Los Angeles Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno has never been afraid to spend money. But this offseason has seen a different approach from the Halos' front office. Outside of signing veteran setup man Robert Stephenson to a three-year, $33 million contract, the Angels have been rather quiet this winter, despite the club's ongoing need for starting pitching.

With Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery squarely in the Angels' crosshairs this offseason, many fans are wondering why the team has failed to come to terms with one of the top free agent pitchers on the market. After all, Snell is the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner and Montgomery's performance for the Texas Rangers in the postseason was tremendous.

But the last time the Angels doled out mega-bucks to a free agent coming off a career year, it didn't end so well. Anthony Rendon's 2019 run with the Washington Nationals landed him a seven-year, $245 million deal with the Halos, only to see it blow up in their face. Los Angeles has every reason to be apprehensive about bringing on Snell or Montgomery.

Is Anthony Rendon’s contract making Angels hesitant to sign top free agent pitchers?

Rendon parlayed a career year into what will inevitably go down as one of the worst free agent deals in Major League Baseball history. Rendon had a season to remember in 2019. The third baseman led the league doubles, earning him the nickname "Tony Two Bags". Rendon hit .319/.412/.598 and placed third in the NL MVP vote. Rendon helped lead the Nats to the World Series Championship that season, reacting coolly to every October bump in the road.

Perhaps that was because he just did not care about the outcome either way.

As expected, Rendon then entered free agency the following season and sold his services to the highest bidder. The Angels were happy to oblige and handed Rendon a contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $35 million. After watching Shohei Ohtani leave this offseason, that's a chunk of change that the Angels would no doubt want to have back.

Since his arrival in Los Angeles, Rendon has been a shell of himself. He's played in just 200 games over the past four seasons while hitting .249/.359/.399. Rendon has yet to eclipse 13 doubles in a single season since coming to LA and has yet to record a season in which he's hit double-digit homers.

Rendon's contract has inevitably left a bad taste in the mouths of the Los Angeles Angels ownership and front office. How could it not? While that may not be the driving factor in the Halos' lack of free agent additions this winter, it certainly can't help.

Angels likely to steer clear of Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery's lofty contract demands

The payday that both Snell and Montgomery are seeking is quite large. Some rumors have suggested that Snell is seeking a contract worth at least $200 million. Snell, who's on the Angels' radar, has two Cy Youngs on his résumé, but he led the league in walks last season. During his four-year stretch in between those two Cy Young Award-winning seasons, he averaged only 103 innings pitched and posted a 3.85 ERA.

Montgomery has a more consistent track record, but will be looking to get paid based on his 11-game stretch with the Rangers that saw him post a 2.79 ERA, rather than the six years prior that included a 3.85 ERA and only 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

If the expectation for either Snell or Montgomery includes six years or over $200 million in salary demands, the Angels are right to steer clear of such madness. Los Angeles was burned four years ago after watching Anthony Rendon put up career numbers in a walk year, and it would seem as though the Halos have no intention to do so again.