Rendon follows Strasburg, Cole to free agent riches

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Gerrit Cole

FILE – In this Oct. 14, 2019, file photo, Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole talks to the media at Yankee Stadium in New York, on an off day during the American League Championship Series between the Astros and the New York Yankees. The New York Yankees landed the biggest prize of the free agent market, adding Gerrit Cole to their rotation with a record $324 million, nine-year contract on Tuesday night, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not been announced. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Anthony Rendon is joining the Los Angeles Angels, quickly following mega-deals for Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg in a trifecta of nine-figure contracts for agent Scott Boras at a wild winter meetings.

With baseball still buzzing over Cole’s $324 million, nine-year agreement with the New York Yankees, Rendon found his own free-agent riches, reaching a $245 million, seven-year deal Wednesday night to play third base in an Angels lineup that features three-time MVP Mike Trout.

Strasburg opened the annual gathering on Monday when the Washington Nationals announced a nearly identical $245 million, seven-year contract to keep the World Series MVP.

That set a record for the largest deal given a pitcher, topping David Price’s $217 million, seven-year agreement with the Boston Red Sox ahead of the 2016 season.

Strasburg’s standard lasted just a day, shattered Tuesday night when Cole agreed to pitch in pinstripes after two outstanding seasons with Houston.

Then on the last full day of the meetings, Rendon matched Strasburg in dollars and years when he struck his deal to leave the Nationals for the Angels. The contracts for Cole and Rendon were detailed by people familiar with the agreements who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they had not been announced.

The high-priced signings came at a lightning pace, quite a contrast to last offseason, when star sluggers Bryce Harper and Manny Machado waited until spring training to find new homes.

Rendon’s contract raised the three-day total to $814 million for Boras, the agent for eight of the 19 $200 million-or-more contracts in baseball history. Boras also negotiated the $330 million deal that moved Harper from Washington to Philadelphia.

Add in the $64 million, four-year deal between infielder Mike Moustakas and Cincinnati announced on Dec. 5, and Boras has negotiated $878 million in contracts for free agents this month with agreements still to be worked out for pitchers Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel, plus outfielder Nick Castellanos.

Rendon, who has played all seven of his major league seasons with Washington, drove in a career-best 126 runs while helping the Nationals capture the franchise’s first World Series championship this year. His 19.9 Wins Above Replacement, per Fangraphs, over the past four seasons trails only Trout, Boston’s Mookie Betts and Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich among position players.

“With our flexibility, if we miss a big player, there’s still very talented players that are accessible in the free agent and trade market right now,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler said earlier Wednesday.

While there have been no major trades at the winter meetings, there were several more free agent agreements reached, according to people familiar with the deals who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity:

–reliever Blake Treinen and the Los Angeles Dodgers at $10 million for one year.

–right-hander Tanner Roark and Toronto at $24 million for two years.

–right-hander Michael Wacha and the New York Mets for one year.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said Major League Baseball is pushing ahead with a rules change for 2020 that requires pitchers to face at least three batters or finish a half-inning. Active rosters will increase by one to 26 from opening day through Aug. 31 and will drop from 40 to 28 from Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season.

The injured list for pitchers will revert to 15 days from 10 days. In tandem, pitchers optioned to the minors will have to spend 15 days with farm teams before they can be recalled unless they replace a pitcher going on the IL.

Seven major league teams will expand protective netting to the foul poles and 15 others will expand their netting generally to the area in the outfield where the stands begin to angle away from the field,

A four-person committee of scientists concluded baseballs this year had less drag on average than in previous seasons, contributing to a power surge that resulted in 6,776 home runs, well above the previous mark of 6,105 set in 2017.

“We have never been asked to juice or de-juice a baseball,” Rawlings President Michael Zlaket said.

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AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley, Jake Seiner and Bernie Wilson contributed to this report.

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