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Arenado, Bryant, Kieboom: Where are the Nats going to replace Rendon?

washington nationalsNolan Arenado isn’t happy with Colorado, but the Rockies don’t appear willing to be in the market for moving their guy.

The front office has admitted that it had been shopping the franchise third baseman around, but GM Jeff Bridich said this week that the team had exhausted all of its trade possibilities and was prepared to go into the season with Arenado back at the hot corner.

To which Arenado, who signed an eight-year, $260 million extension ahead of the 2019 season, replied that he felt he’d been shown “disrespect.”

Colorado stumbled to a 71-91 finish in 2019, and has been oddly quiet in the offseason, but that hasn’t stopped the rampant speculation about Arenado (41 HR, 118 RBI, .315/.379/.583 slash, 5.7 WAR in 2019) as the days count down to pitchers and catchers reporting.

Unfortunately for Washington Nationals fans, none of that speculation seems to involve the reigning, defending, undisputed, undefeated world champions, who lost franchise cornerstone Anthony Rendon (34 HR, 126 RBI, .319/.412/.598 slash, 6.3 WAR in 2019) to the Los Angeles Angels in free agency.

The Nats already missed out on what would have been the easiest plug-in, free agent Josh Donaldson (37 HR, 94 RBI, .259/.379/.521 slash, 6.1 WAR in 2019), who signed a four-year, $92 million contract with Minnesota.

The good news there being: hey, at least he didn’t re-sign with Atlanta.

There is still something going on with another franchise-type third baseman, Kris Bryant (31 HR, 77 RBI, .282/.382/.521 slash, 3.6 WAR in 2019), but his current employer, the Chicago Cubs, would seem to be able to command a flood of prospects in any deal for Bryant, and that could be an issue for Washington, coming up with enough in return to be able to land a former MVP.

Carter Kieboom would be an attractive anchor piece in any possible big-time deal, but it’s appearing at the moment that the Nats are intent on giving Kieboom (16 HR, 79 RBI, .303/.409/.493 slash at AAA Fresno in 2019) a chance to win the third-base job in spring training and into the early part of the 2020 season.

Theoretically, then, if things don’t work out, the front office could work the trade deadline in the summer for other options, as need be.

Additional options could include going with Asdrubal Cabrera (18 HR, 91 RBI, .260/.342/.441 slash, 1.7 WAR in 2019) or Howie Kendrick (17 HR, 62 RBI, .344/.395/.572 slash, 2.6 WAR in 2019) at third, now that the team has free-agent signee Starlin Castro (22 HR, 86 RBI, .270/.300/.436 slash, 0.8 WAR in 2019) ensconced as the everyday second baseman.

Whichever way you see the Nats go, it’s obviously going to involve some kind of dropoff from Rendon, but that’s baseball economics.

Story by Chris Graham

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