Jonathan Papelbon on Anthony Rendon Credit: Foul Territory

Anthony Rendon is in headlines for the wrong reasons again as one of MLB’s highest-paid players is drawing the ire of fans and leaders across baseball for saying competing on the diamond is not a top priority for him. This comes after Rendon last year advocated for baseball to shorten its season. And on Tuesday, Rendon’s former Washington Nationals teammate Jonathan Papelbon shredded Rendon over his poor work ethic, saying it can be traced all the way back to the beginning of the slugger’s career.

Papelbon, who now works as an analyst on Boston Red Sox broadcasts for NESN, was a proven veteran by the time he played in Washington next to Rendon in 2015 and 16 and saw Rendon give little effort and recede into the background as a teammate and competitor.

“Every single day this guy shows up to go out, it was like a chore,” the legendary closer said during Tuesday’s episode of Foul Territory. “He strictly got away with just raw athleticism and just raw talent. And you can do that … but there’s a reason why he’s not as successful as he really, truly could be. He’s got more raw talent than the three of us combined, but he just doesn’t give a s***.”

Asked how much baseball mattered to him this week, Rendon said, “It’s never been a top priority for me.”

In the mid-2010s, Rendon was a young hotshot who finished fifth in National League MVP voting in 2014. But despite his incredible talent, Papelbon could tell Rendon didn’t have the competitive spirit to take him far in baseball.

Rendon signed a seven-year, $245 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels after the 2019 season. He has played in 200 of 546 possible games since joining the Angels.

“I knew that when he became a free agent … I was like, ‘whoever gets that dude is going to get totally bamboozled; it’s going to be the worst deal in history,'” Papelbon added. “And it’s proven that way.”

Given his comments and salary, Rendon may be an easy target right now. Still, it’s nevertheless rare for someone from within the sport (first as an athlete and then as media) to go in on an active player so hard. Either Rendon wronged Papelbon during their Nationals days, or Papelbon truly thinks that little of Rendon as a worker.

[Foul Territory on YouTube]

About Brendon Kleen

Brendon is a Media Commentary staff writer at Awful Announcing. He has also covered basketball and sports business at Front Office Sports, SB Nation, Uproxx and more.