Growing up as a whiny snot-nosed kid, I frequently asked my parents if we could go out to eat, despite the fact that I was a pretty lucky kid that got homemade meals just about every night of the week and we still went out a fair amount. I asked probably every single time we were in a car. Sometimes I would ask multiple times on any given drive — you know, just in case they changed their mind between Perkins and Eat’n Park on the way home. As a parent now, I don’t know how they didn’t just open a door and leave me in a parking lot somewhere to walk home so I’d stop asking.
One time, the first time I asked in this particular car ride, I distinctly remember my mom politely but excitedly told me that they opened a new restaurant in our neighborhood. There were burgers and pizza and a slide — it had everything! I just had to be good (read: quiet) until we got there and I could get whatever I wanted. I tried my hardest to picture where this restaurant was; surely I would’ve seen it at some point. I managed to convince myself I was sure I saw it where my neighbors house was, so I silently watched out the window with anticipation, ready to stuff my face with pizza and slide until I puked.
It wasn’t until we got home and pulled in the driveway that I realized something was up. It was then that I was informed the restaurant was called “Our House” and they were serving spaghetti tonight. After a brief temper tantrum, I was also informed that they have a special bedroom for kids that whine.
I tell you that story because I intend to bring the same whiny, consistent energy that I once brought to budget family restaurants to the Indians actually doing something to improve themselves this offseason. When the calendar flips past January (the Perkins of months, I’ve always said that) and Rendon remains unsigned, there I’ll be. Asking again.
Yet I have no doubt we’ll be strung along until we arrive in the driveway of the 2020 season and informed that Eric Stamets’s clone and a 37-year-old you’ve never heard of will occupy 22% of the Opening Day starting lineup. Still, it’s worth a shot.
To that end: Sign Anthony Rendon, you cowards.
Last offseason, the Indians ticked along like they always have since they started taking the AL Central handily in 2016. They added a small vet here and there, made a couple trades around the fringe of their roster, and were set to compete once again. Carlos Santana was a wonderful addition, but he came at the expense of a potential third-base piece in Yandy Diaz (remember, Santana could have been acquired if the Indians were willing to pitch in a few million, instead of sending Diaz).
A calendar year later, and the Indians are likely chasing the Twins, the White Sox can no longer be slept on, and they have an open roster spot in the infield. Most likely it’s going to be filled by a Matt Duffy-esque player or an internal option, but Anthony Rendon is right there. Just like that delicious Chicken Tender BLT eight-year-old me always wanted was right there.
Don’t get me wrong, Rendon is going to command a massive deal, but he’s probably going to be worth it for a least a couple years into his 30’s. He’s played in 130 games in all but two of his seven seasons, and his last three were all complimented with outstanding offense and a total of 19.9 fWAR. Over three seasons! That’s incredible, and he arguably led his offense to a World Series win last year, while also playing good defense at third.
As for what it will take to sign Rendon, consider the Colorado Rockies. A team with a very similar financial situation to that of the Indians, the Rockies signed 27-year-old, face of the franchise Nolan Arenado to an eight-year, $260 million deal last offseason. Rendon has an even better career than Arenado to this point, but he’s almost three years older than when Arenado signed his deal. Still, the $32.53 million average annual value that Arenado signed for could easily be topped by Rendon’s deal.
And, hear me out, the Indians should still do it.
Adding even $35 million per year would put the Indians just above league-average in payroll — for a franchise worth $1.2 billion, according to Forbes. If Paul Dolan is really committed to creating a compelling fan experience before he dumps the team off on another billionaire, this is the way to do it. Sign good players while you have other good players. Build a team that can win a championship and don’t lose the division to one-dimensional dinger machines.
It’s not going to happen, of course. The Indians have a clear plan, and that’s to give themselves as many chances to compete as possible, instead of exhausting themselves by going all-in over a year or two. I’ve been vocally OK with that thinking for a while now, but Rendon isn’t a one-year rental that costs prospects. He only costs money. The Indians have money. Baseball teams have money. Billionaires have money. Wait until every other team in baseball pretends they can’t pay him so you can get him a little cheaper, I don’t care. Just bring Tony Two Bags to Cleveland and win the whole damn thing.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go throw a temper tantrum in the shipping containers.