September 17, 2021

Nationals owner Mark Lerner says team can’t keep both Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon (ESPN)

Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon were key components in the Washington Nationals winning the franchise’s first World Series title this year, but Mark Lerner, the team’s principal owner, is already preparing to say goodbye to at least one of them in free agency.

“We really can only afford to have one of those two guys,” Lerner told NBC Sports Washington in a interview excerpt published Thursday. “They’re huge numbers. We already have a really large payroll to begin with.”

The Nationals ended the 2019 season with a total payroll of nearly $228 million, according to Spotrac.

Lerner said the team has made offers to both players but is making backup plans in case either or both players leave.

“It’s not up to us,” Lerner said. “We can give them a great offer, which we’ve done to both of those players. They’re great people. We’d be delighted if they stay. But it’s not up to us; it’s up to them. That’s why they call it free agency.”

Lerner’s comments drew a response from Strasburg and Rendon’s agent, Scott Boras, who indicated to The Athletic via text that the Nationals have plenty of revenue to support big free-agent deals if they want to.

“The franchise value has increased by nearly $2…

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