Although it’s still December, things are falling into place in the baseball world. Spring training is only a glimmer in most fans’ minds, but business is already in full swing. The New York Yankees finally landed an ace in Gerrit Cole, and Stephen Strasburg chose to re-up with the Washington Nationals. His former teammate, Anthony Rendon, however, moved across the country and signed a new deal with the Los Angeles Angels.
While the third baseman had his pick of teams, one factor apparently played a significant role in his choice in signing with the Angels instead of the crosstown Los Angeles Dodgers.
Anthony Rendon’s career thus far
Despite making it big in Washington, D.C., Anthony Rendon burst onto the scene in Texas. He shone as high school shortstop and was selected in the 27th round of the 2008 draft; Rendon, however, turned down the deal to play college ball.
Rendon suited up for the Rice Owls and immediately made an impact on the diamond. During his freshman year, he smashed 20 home runs and 72 RBIs while posting a .388 average; at the end of the season, earned nominations for both the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award. His sophomore season, however, which eventually earned him the former trophy. On the back of that success, the Washington Nationals selected Rendon with the sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft
During the 2013 season, Rendon split time between the minor leagues and the big show; when the next season arrived, however, he was ready to make an impact. The third baseman burst onto the scene, earning MVP consideration and a Silver Slugger Award as the Nationals made a run to the NLDS. 2016 was another year plagued by injuries and inconsistencies but, since then, Rendon has continued his upward trajectory. During the Nats’ World Series-winning 2019, he batted .319 while leading the league in RBIs; the third baseman was also a force in the postseason, hitting two massive home runs and driving in eight runs during the World Series.
The Nationals choose Stephen Strasburg over Anthony Rendon
While no team will ever complain about winning the World Series, the Washington Nationals couldn’t spend the entire offseason celebrating. The franchise headed into the winter facing the free agency of both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg.
When push came to shove, the Nationals chose pitching over batting and inked Strasburg to a massive, seven-year, $245 million contract. While the deal’s deferred money theoretically meant the team could try to work something out with Rendon and Scott Boras, nothing materialized.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers made a push to sign the star third baseman, Rendon eventually signed on the dotted line and joined the Los Angeles Angels. At his introductory press conference, he revealed one major factor shaped his decision.
What was so appealing about the Los Angeles Angels?
While a $245 million check was certainly welcome, Anthony Rendon didn’t make a decision purely base on money. The third baseman apparently chose the Angels over the Dodgers to avoid “the Hollywood lifestyle.”
“I just think environment itself,” he explained afterward. “I think when people think about California, they think about straight Hollywood, that Hollywood glamour, whole bunch of flashes, so much paparazzi. But everyone said it’s just the complete opposite here.” That, combined with Angels owner Arte Moreno’s insistence on signing the third baseman, helped get the deal done. Playing alongside Mike Trout—who’s a dominant player and will presumably garner most of the media attention—doesn’t hurt either.
If everything works out, Anthony Rendon will be able to have his cake and eat it, too. He got a massive payday and landed with a talented club, all while avoided the spotlight that accompanies teams like the Dodgers or the Yankees.