According to Bob Nightengale, the Phillies plan to 'strongly pursue' Anthony Rendon in free agency with Josh Donaldson as their backup plan at third base.
The Phillies have yet to meet face-to-face with Rendon according to the report.
Rendon is expected to sign a contract close to the eight-year $260 million deal Nolan Arenado signed with the Rockies a year ago. The Phillies signed Zach Wheeler to a five-year $118 million contract earlier this week, and signing Rendon would likely vault them into the luxury tax.
According to Nightengale, their owner John Middleton's aggressiveness in free agency has not been deterred by that fact.
On Thursday, Nationals owner Mark Lerner explained how the team can't afford to bring back both Rendon and Stephen Strasburg. The Phillies have also had reported interest in Strasburg to add to their rotation.
If Rendon signs elsewhere, say the Rangers or Dodgers, Philly's backup plan of Donaldson would pit them against the Nationals once again. Washington is reportedly eyeing Donaldson as well if they don't bring back Rendon.
The Winter Meetings begin in just a few days and as division rivals like the Braves and Phillies make moves to go after the Nationals next season, the defending champs will have to maneuver their free-agent negotiations with seemingly more budgetary restrictions.
MORE NATIONALS NEWS:
Can't sign both: Lerner opens up on free agency
Deadlines: Rizzo wants Rendon response soon
Report: Phillies plan to 'strongly pursue' Anthony Rendon originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington