- The Washington Times
Thursday, December 5, 2019

Washington Nationals fans will have to say a bittersweet “goodbye” to at least one of the key players from their first World Series championship.

Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner said in an interview with NBC Sports Washington’s “The Donald Dell Interview” that between starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg and third baseman Anthony Rendon, the team only can afford to bring back one of its two marquee free agents.

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

Strasburg, the World Series MVP, and Rendon, who finished third in National League MVP voting, each was crucial to the Nationals’ championship effort in his own way. Rendon was in the final year of his contract in 2019, and Strasburg declined a player option so he could test free agency.

Rendon has been linked to the Texas Rangers, who have the money available to give him a massive contract and who play in his home state. Strasburg has so far met with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.

This isn’t the first time Lerner has spoken this candidly about looming personnel decisions. Last year, shortly after the 2018 season ended, he said he didn’t expect star free agent Bryce Harper to come back to Washington. That turned out to be prescient. The question now is whether the Nationals sign back Rendon or Strasburg — or if they lose out on both.

• Adam Zielonka can be reached at azielonka@washingtontimes.com.

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