Winner: The Angels’ lineup
This was already a respectable offense that ranked seventh in the AL in runs scored last season and did so despite playing their home games in a pitcher’s park. There was already hope for improvement, too. Albert Pujols, in his deep decline phase, seems likely be to reduced to being the right-handed half of a first base platoon. Shohei Ohtani is further removed from Tommy John surgery, and that should help his production at the plate. Top prospect outfielder Jo Adell is on the way, and he has the potential to produce right away. As well, maybe Mike Trout plays in more than 134 games in 2020. Now they’ve addressed a major 2019 weak spot — third base — with one of the top hitters in baseball. Rendon and those other factors could make this a top-tier lineup in 2020.
Winner: Anthony Rendon
With Rendon off the board, Donaldson now becomes the most coveted third baseman and the most coveted bat available. His market already appears to be heating up:
Winner: Scott Boras
The king, as it turns out, is still the king. The superagent Boras is unjustifiably maligned by many for simply being very good at his job. While Boras like other agents didn’t exactly thrive over the last two offseasons (Bryce Harper’s 0 million pact notwithstanding), he’s been on top of this and every heap this winter. In the span of three days, three notable Boras clients — Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole, and now Rendon — combined for 4 million in guaranteed salary. Also don’t forget Mike Moustakas and his million deal with the Reds. Still waiting in the wings are Boras clients Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dallas Keuchel, and Nick Castellanos who could push that figure to around billion. Scott Boras? Haters remain his motivators.
Winner: The Winter Meetings
The Phillies could also be in that mix. As for Donaldson, he signed a one year, million “prove it” contract with the Braves. Prove it he did: 127 OPS+ with 37 home runs in 155 games and almost 1,300 defensive innings — plus defensive innings — at the hot corner. He’s going into his age-34 season, yes, but he’s still going to get paid thanks to how many contenders still need help at the position.
Winner: Josh Donaldson
Score one for Orange County. Look, the Angels bid hotly and heavily for Gerrit Cole with good reason: their rotation was terrible last season. In 2019, the Angels ranked last in the AL in ERA, and the underlying indicators weren’t much better. The Dylan Bundy trade will help matters a bit, and Ohtani will return to the rotation at some point. As well, there’s hope for further development/better results from Andrew Heaney and Griffin Canning (and, if necessary, Patrick Sandoval and Jose Suarez). Post-Cole, though, this rotation still needs a reliable provider of quality innings. That’s still to be found in the trio of Madison Bumgarner, Ryu, and Keuchel, but will owner Arte Moreno be willing to open the checkbook again now that Rendon is in the fold? That may be what’s needed to truly position the Angels as a contender in a division that also houses the Astros and Athletics.
Donaldson’s availability is also why we’re not quite ready to declare any of those teams to be post-Rendon losers.
Loser: The Angels’ rotation
Given the glacial pace of the last two offseasons, many of us were caught wondering whether the Winter Meetings had become outmoded in the age of digital communication and slow-to-develop free-agent markets. Well, consider those concerns alleviated, at least for now. That’s thanks largely to Messrs. Strasburg, Cole, and Rendon and their respective employers.
Loser: Trea Turner
This one’s an easy call. Rendon’s 5 million pact is tied for the 10th largest in MLB history, free agent contract or extension. His contract will also afford him the largest average annul salary for a third baseman in MLB history. He’ll now be playing alongside Mike Trout in one of the most coveted geographic locations of all. Not a bad follow-up to, you know, winning a World Series ring.
Loser: The City of Los Angeles
The Dodgers were said to be in on Rendon, but their efforts — such as they were — obviously came to grief. On that point, here’s this: The Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night with free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon on a seven year, 5 million contract. The news is still fresh, and Rendon hasn’t even been fitted for his new threads. Already, though, we can declare some winners and losers from the latest blockbuster signing. Let’s now do just that.