Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies are preparing to make a run at free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. He’s now the team’s "No. 1 target," per the report.

If there was any doubt as to the Phillies’ all-in intentions after they inked Zack Wheeler, this would seem to resolve it. The organization had spoken of its disinclination to part with draft compensation to land free agents. But having done so for Wheeler, adding another qualifying offer-declining free agent would actually cost less in draft capital.

Should the sides end up seeing eye-to-eye on a contract, Rendon would be following Bryce Harper in a dramatic trip north on I-95. It’s not difficult to see the match on paper. Rendon is an exceptional all-around player who’d fill the void at the hot corner for the Phils. The team grew tired of waiting for Maikel Franco to establish himself there and isn’t inclined to sit on its hands until top prospect Alec Bohm is ready.

Plenty of other teams (the incumbent Nationals among them) would likewise love to slot Rendon in at third base. He’s being courted by a variety of organizations. Rumors persist that Rendon would be interested in a somewhat shorter, higher-AAV contract — the precise opposite of the angle Harper took. Whether that sort of arrangement would suit the Philadelphia club’s needs isn’t known.

What is clear is that the involvement of the Phillies only serves to buttress Rendon’s market. Entering the winter, we predicted a $235M guarantee over seven years. It seems that Rendon does indeed have that kind of earning power, even if he ultimately elects to take a shorter contract with greater single-season salaries.

This article first appeared on MLB Trade Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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