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Nationals owner claims team can only pay for one of Anthony Rendon, Stephen Strasburg

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg reacts with third baseman Anthony Rendon after scoring against the Atlanta Braves during the third inning at SunTrust Park. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Nationals have some big free agent decisions to make this offseason. Third baseman Anthony Rendon hit the open market for the first time in his career, and starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg hit the market as well when he opted out of his existing contract.

Both are expected to get huge deals, and Washington Nationals managing general partner Mark Lerner said in a recent interview that the team can only afford to re-sign one of them. He spoke about the team’s already high payroll and said they would be huge numbers. The team is still negotiating with Scott Boras, who represents both players, but are considering other options.

“We’re pursuing them, we’re pursuing other free agents in case they decided to go elsewhere,” Lerner said in the interview with Dell. “Again, it’s not up to us. 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.”

The Nationals had the seventh highest payroll last year, but have also regularly tried to defer money in contracts into future years. It remains to be seen where their final offers will stand, but there will be plenty of competition for both Rendon and Strasburg this winter. Strasburg has already met with the Yankees, and more meetings are to come.