Tag: Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond to Rockies: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Free-agent outfielder Ian Desmond is joining the Colorado Rockies.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Desmond was signing with the Rockies. Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirmed the agreement, adding it’s a five-year deal.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported the value of Desmond’s deal with the Rockies is $70 million.

Rosenthal also noted the team plans to use him at first base and in the outfield. It does come at a steep price, though; the Rockies have to forfeit the No. 11 pick in the draft.

This is Desmond’s third-different team in as many years. After spending seven years with the Washington Nationals, he signed with the Texas Rangers on a one-year deal in 2016.

The 31-year-old is coming off one of the most productive seasons of his career in his lone season with the Rangers, batting .285 with 22 home runs and 86 RBI while garnering his second-ever All-Star appearance.

It was an impressive season for a player who was signed so late in the offseason. After turning down a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals, Desmond tested free agency and wasn’t signed until the last day of February when he accepted a one-year, $8 million deal from Texas, per Spotrac.

It was risky bet for him to try out free agency after he turned down a seven-year, $107 million deal from the Nationals before the 2015 season. He followed it up with his worst offensive year since 2011, batting .233 with 19 homers, 62 RBI and a meager .290 on-base percentage.

But upon his arrival in Texas, Desmond was forced to make the move from shortstop to center field due to Elvis Andrus patrolling the position. He posted a .966 fielding percentage in his first year in the outfield, committing 12 errors on 350 chances.

On Nov. 7, the Rangers made a $17.2 million qualifying offer in hopes of retaining him, but he rejected it one week later.

Now the Rockies will look to capitalize on Desmond’s successful 2016 campaign.

Left field is a potential spot for the Rockies to use Desmond’s offensive capabilities. Colorado got virtually no production from that spot in 2016 with a .256/.291/.403 slash line, per Baseball-Reference.com.

Desmond does hold the promise of providing a noticeable boost offensively given his prior experience at his new home park. According to Matt Musico of numberFire.com, Desmond has hit .379/.406/.611 with three home runs, 11 doubles and 18 RBI in 95 at-bats at Coors Field.

The Rockies don’t often have issues finding offense because their park is catered to hitting in the thin air, but the front office identified multiple positions it wanted to address, and Desmond’s versatility will allow him to handle both of them.

Desmond took a chance on himself after the contract debacle with the Nationals left him searching for a home. He put together a strong 2016 and will now reap the financial rewards while also playing an integral role for a Rockies franchise that is trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.

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Ian Desmond: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on Free-Agent CF

After a great bounce-back year with the Texas Rangers in 2016, center fielder Ian Desmond is already generating interest on the free-agent market. 

Continue for updates.

Orioles Reportedly Interested in Desmond

Tuesday, Nov. 8

According to Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the Baltimore Orioles are keeping tabs on Desmond with the intention of moving him to left or right field, should they manage to sign him.

Desmond Coming Off Bounce-Back 2016

The Rangers gave Desmond a $17.2 million qualifying offer on Monday, per Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram, but testing the free-agent waters seems likely since his strong 2016 could land him a lucrative, multiyear deal.

The 31-year-old veteran made his second All-Star team in 2016 and ended the campaign hitting .285 with 22 home runs, 86 RBI, 21 stolen bases and a career-high 107 runs scored.

It represented a return to prominence for Desmond after one of his worst seasons in 2015, when he hit a career-low .233 with 19 homers and 62 RBI for the Washington Nationals.

Desmond restored his value last season not only due to his prowess at the plate but also because he showed defensive versatility by successfully transitioning to the outfield after playing shortstop almost exclusively in his seven years with the Nats.

According to Morosi, Desmond intends to use that versatility to his advantage:

With Mark Trumbo likely to hit free agency and cash in significantly after hitting a career-high 47 home runs with the O’s last season, corner outfield is a major position of need.

Adam Jones already has center field locked down, but Desmond could be a great fit in left or right. He doesn’t bring the same type of power to the table that Trumbo does, but he represents a defensive upgrade and could fill in for J.J. Hardy at short when needed.

The market was light for Desmond last year, but that doesn’t figure to be the case this time around. Baltimore makes plenty of sense as a potential suitor and presents Desmond with a ballpark that is favorable for hitters, but the Orioles are likely to be just one of many teams courting Desmond and his all-around skill set.


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Desmond Becomes 4th Player to Hit 20 Homers as Both SS and CF

Texas Rangers outfielder Ian Desmond hit his 20th home run of the season during Wednesday’s 6-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics, becoming just the fourth player in major league history to record 20-homer campaigns as both a primary shortstop and center fielder, per MLB Stat of the Day (h/t MLB.com’s Ryan Posner).

Mostly a shortstop while playing for the Washington Nationals from 2009 to 2015, the 30-year-old Desmond has made a seamless transition to the outfield in his first seasons with the Rangers, making 74 starts in center field and 27 starts in left field (101 total) through the team’s first 103 games.

Although he’s committed five errors in center and three more in left, Desmond has more than made up for the miscues with his impressive range and even more impressive batting.

His current batting average (.307), on-base percentage (.359) and slugging percentage (.525) would all represent career-best marks, and he’s also on pace for 31 homers, 98 RBI and 115 runs—all of which would be career highs.

Playing home games in Arlington has certainly helped, with Desmond sporting a 1.001 OPS at home compared to a much more modest .786 mark on the road.

In any case, the last player to accomplish Desmond’s recent feat was Milwaukee Brewers superstar Robin Yount, who proved highly effective as both a center fielder and shortstop for long stretches of his 20-year Hall of Fame career.

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Ian Desmond’s Comeback All-Star Season Earning Back Big Bucks Lost in 2015

An underwhelming 2015 season left Texas Rangers star Ian Desmond in need of reinventing himself.

Like Apple on the brink of bankruptcy in the late 1990s or Taylor Swift transitioning from country singer to mainstream pop star, Desmond’s brand was due for a seismic change when he entered free agency this past offseason.

So the lifelong shortstop went into full marketing mode. In an interview with Bleacher Report Saturday, Desmond said his camp went to the Texas Rangers and told them he was capable of playing in the outfield. At the time, Desmond had played only 7.1 MLB innings in right field.

But the Rangers took a chance, believing in his athleticism. It paid off: Texas (55-41) sits atop the AL West, in large part due to a career year from Desmond.

Desmond has proved to be an elite outfielder. That, combined with his .319/.372/.535 line this season, has him poised to sign a megadeal when he re-enters free agency this coming offseason.

“That was kind of like the whole thing: I would be willing to move positions for a contending team or a team that I felt like had a shortstop that was better than me at short,” Desmond said of the position change. “So whatever I had to do to get to a contending team, I was going to do.”

Elvis Andrus was already firmly entrenched as Texas’ shortstop. So any hope Desmond had of latching onto the roster was at another position.

According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, he signed a one-year, $8 million deal that offered him a spot on a contending team and a mulligan at free agency. He could prove himself this season and, if all went well, earn the lucrative deal he had anticipated when he initially rejected the Nationals’ $107 million offer prior to the 2014 season, according to MLB.com.

But it would take a team that was willing to take a risk.

In manager Jeff Banister, Desmond found his perfect match. During Banister’s first year as an MLB manager in 2015, he showed a willingness to be creative. He started 6’5″, 235-pound power hitter Joey Gallo in center field for a game. This year, Banister has played Jurickson Profar, a middle-infield prospect, at first base in an effort to get him plate appearances. Profar had not played the position prior to this season.

The Texas manager’s outside-the-box thinking was exactly what Desmond needed when he was looking for a new home. However, Banister contends that his creativity had little to do with it, conceding that the team was fortunate to sign such a great athlete.

Banister relays a story from the opening week of spring training when he watched Desmond first take fly balls in the outfield. Desmond was shagging balls in left field but making plays in right-center. When Desmond showed that kind of range, Banister knew his athleticism would translate to the outfield.

“The guy’s a dynamic athlete,” Banister said. “So I knew from everything that I had seen, from all that I heard, that he had instincts for the game, feel for reading the bat. So once you could see the desire and the determination, I felt like it would be a good fit, a solid transition.”

But Desmond hasn’t just been a serviceable outfielder. Already this season, he has shown he can change the game defensively when playing on the grass.

According to FanGraphs, Desmond has an ultimate zone rating of 8.8, which ranks ninth among outfielders this season. Each player above him in that category is a career outfielder.

Such prowess in the outfield early in the season prompted Banister to move him to center field, one of the most important positions on the diamond, after Delino DeShields Jr., the team’s Opening Day starter, struggled.

Desmond has started 68 games in center.

That kind of flexibility defensively, combined with his infield experience, will make Desmond even more desirable to teams this offseason. The Chicago Cubs similarly employ Kris Bryant who can play all the outfield positions and third base.

A player who can play multiple positions in effect expands the roster. Desmond’s versatility allows those with only one comfortable position to be worked into the lineup should their bat create a favorable matchup against a given starting pitcher.

In the NL, with the double-switch in play, Desmond offers even more value defensively.

“We’ve always liked him,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “Our scouts—I’ve got to give them a lot of credit—they’ve always identified him as a guy who would be a real natural in the outfield. I got to give him a ton of credit.

“We can’t imagine where we’d be without him. He’s been a huge part of this team.”

Of course, he’s made an impact at the plate, too.

Desmond wouldn’t have earned a spot on this year’s American League All-Star team without stellar offensive numbers. Through the completion of Thursday’s games, Desmond led Texas in batting average, on-base percentage, RBI (58) and doubles. His .535 slugging percentage ranked first on the team among regular starters, while his 18 homers also ranked first.

It’s the best he has played since the 2013 season, when he hit .280/.331/.453. Desmond rejected Washington’s nine-figure offer prior to spring training the following season.

Two subpar seasons ensued. But in his comeback campaign this year, Desmond has seen a marked improvement in how hard he is hitting the ball.

According to FanGraphs, 21.6 percent of the balls he has hit this season were line drives—his highest total since 2013. Of the fly balls he has hit, 23.1 percent were home runs, which is a career best.

“It’s all about feel, and for the last couple years I’ve been looking for that feel, and I got it back and it feels really good,” Desmond said.

“It’s just a product of being in the right position and that matched with a little bit of pitch sequence that I’m seeing now in this league, and over here they’re starting to shift me a little bit more. So, it’s opened up some more holes where balls I would have hit before would have been caught.”

That approach is just one example of an advanced understanding of the game, which, along with his newfound versatility and elite hitting, has made him one of the stars of the upcoming free-agent class.

Certainly, it has affirmed his decision to walk away from the deal the Nationals offered in the spring of 2014.

And as he enters free agency this winter, there will be plenty of stats to throw around from this season that validate his asking for a more lucrative deal. Analytics will prove his value to any team.

But four words best describe Desmond’s 2016 campaign: I told you so.


Seth Gruen is a national baseball columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @SethGruen.

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Ian Desmond Loses $100 Million, Shows Danger of Betting on MLB Free Agency

Ian Desmond is now $8 million richer. Were he a normal person, that would be worthy of a pat on the back and an “Attaboy!”

But because Desmond is a fallen baseball star who could have been over $100 million richer a couple of years ago, all anyone can say is, “Tough break, man.”

For anyone who wasn’t paying attention, Desmond’s extended stay on the free-agent market following a disappointing 2015 season finally came to an end Sunday morning. As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported, the 30-year-old shortstop signed with the Texas Rangers for one year and $8 million.

Whoops. Sorry. That should read “former shortstop.” Though Desmond has played all but seven of his 920 career games in the majors at shortstop, he’ll play left field for the Rangers. They signed him not to take over for Elvis Andrus, but to fill in for the eternally banged-up Josh Hamilton.

“This is a new chapter,” the former Washington Nationals star said Monday morning, per Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. “And I’m going to embrace the challenge.”

Though Desmond may not be kicking himself outwardly, it’s easy to assume he’s doing so inwardly. On some level, he must know he just became a living warning about the dark side of free agency.

As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported in November 2014, Desmond could have made himself a very rich man in between the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The Nationals offered him a seven-year, $107 million contract extension that would have made him one of the highest-paid shortstops in baseball.

But Desmond turned it down. And even in retrospect, it’s hard to blame him for doing so.

Because Washington’s offer would have included the two-year, $17.5 million deal Desmond had already signed to cover his final arbitration years, it was realistically an offer to buy out five free-agent years for $89.5 million. There was also deferred money involved, which made that number less attractive.

At the time, Desmond could look beyond Washington’s borders and see the nearly $160 million extension Troy Tulowitzki signed in Colorado and the $120 million extension Andrus signed in Texas. Knowing that, he had every right to feel underwhelmed.

After all, Desmond had posted an .812 OPS across 2012 and 2013 while reaching 20 homers and 20 stolen bases each year. One defensive metric rated him above average, and he was easily the best shortstop in baseball, according to FanGraphs WAR:

Had Desmond been a younger player making the MLB minimum with a long stretch of club control still ahead of him, it would have been a no-brainer to take the Nationals’ offer. But at 28 and with only two years to go until free agency, he rejected Washington’s offer to pursue an even bigger payday—a decision virtually every player in his position would have made.

While turning down the offer may have been easy, the hard part was always going to be keeping up the performance that motivated Washington to present it in the first place.

And so begins the story of Desmond’s downfall. He regressed offensively in 2014, as his .743 OPS qualified him as only a slightly above-average hitter. That begat an all-around regression in 2015, as he OPS’d just .674 and struggled with consistency on defense.

What happened? James Wagner and Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post wrote Sunday that Desmond seemed to let the pressure get to him. Between a bad strikeout habit that got considerably worse and a problem with errors that came back with a vengeance after quieting down for a couple of years, that’s easy to believe.

The good news, such as it was, is that Desmond regained his confidence and saved face with a .777 OPS and better defense in the second half of 2015. Pair that with a widespread need for offense at shortstop, and he spurned a qualifying offer in November that would have paid him $15.8 million in 2016. It must have seemed like an obvious choice. 

And it wasn’t just Desmond who figured as much. Jon Heyman, then with CBS Sports, predicted he would find a six-year, $90 million deal. Had Desmond been able to, refusing Washington’s extension offer would have been no harm, no foul.

But it was too good to be true.

If Desmond was guilty of anything in rejecting Washington’s extension offer, it was overestimating his margin for error. 

Dave Cameron of FanGraphs noticed a couple of years ago that there has recently been a steep decline in the percentage of payroll allocated to MLB players in their 30s. This appears to be a reaction to how poorly players have aged in the post-PED era, and Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated wrote that it’s especially apparent in free agency.

Baseball is in an age when teams are better off focusing their attention and their money on younger players, and not just the ones who are already established.

Teams have all the incentive in the world to collect as many draft picks as possible, which doesn’t help players who are given qualifying offers. As soon as they say “No thanks,” they’re attached to draft-pick compensation. And as we’ve seen many times over the last four years, teams are generally hesitant to deal with players attached to draft-pick compensation.

Of course, there’s still lots of money to be made in free agency. Teams spent roughly $2.5 billion on free agents this offseason—and not all on players who had momentum going into free agency. Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija and Ian Kennedy were all paid well despite being tied to draft-pick compensation and despite not having great seasons in 2015.

But at the same time, those three didn’t do nearly as well as they likely would have if they had performed better in 2015. And if one supbar season hurt them, it’s no wonder two subpar seasons hurt Desmond considerably more. At a time when teams are hesitant to give up draft picks and hesitant to pay for players in their declining years, Desmond might as well have morphed into a giant red flag.

Now that his saga is over, there’s no ignoring the distressing message that was sent to players who might find themselves in his shoes. If they’re going to bet on their own ability, they better make sure they win.

If they don’t, free agency won’t be forgiving.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Ian Desmond to Rangers: Latest Contract Details, Comments, Reaction

Shortstop Ian Desmond has been a huge part of the Washington Nationals‘ success in recent years, but the two sides parted ways Sunday as Desmond signed with the Texas Rangers in free agency.  

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the deal will be for one year and $8 million. William Ladson of MLB.com confirmed the agreement. The Rangers confirmed their signing Monday morning:

Desmond has undoubtedly been one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball over the past few years. He won the National League Silver Slugger Award at his position every year from 2012 through 2014, and he is a one-time All-Star selection.

Despite that, Jim Bowden of ESPN reported the plan is for Desmond to be the team’s starting left fielder for the 2016 season. Rosenthal added that left field will be Desmond’s primary position, but he could move around the field based on injuries or performance.

The 2015 campaign was a struggle for him, though, as he hit a career-low .233 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI, and Washington missed the playoffs. With that said, his play improved significantly after the All-Star break.

Desmond is just one year removed from his most productive season to date. He posted 24 home runs, a career-high 91 RBI and 24 stolen bases in 2014.

Few players in Major League Baseball have a power-speed combination comparable to Desmond’s, which is why the 30-year-old veteran was so coveted on the open market.

The Nationals were in a difficult situation with Desmond. He was one of their best offensive players, but they could not work out an extension, per Ladson. He was constantly the subject of trade rumors as well, but Washington opted to keep him in 2015, which resulted in the organization ultimately losing him for nothing.

When asked about his desire to remain with the Nationals long term prior to the 2015 season, Desmond made it clear that he was interested in doing so, according to Ladson.

“Do I want to be a National (beyond 2015)? Yes,” he said. “Do I think, at this particular moment, I will be? I don’t know. I cannot give you an answer on that. We’ll see. I know 2015 is coming fast. I’m excited to get back out there. I think we have a lot to prove. We have a hungry bunch coming in 2015.”

It eventually became apparent that the two sides were reaching the end of their time together, however. It was so obvious, in fact, that his final game of 2015 was treated as a farewell of sorts.

After that contest, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo discussed how much Desmond meant to the team over the years, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post:

Ian Desmond is the rock of the organization. A guy that when I became the GM we made him the everyday shortstop, and (he) has blossomed into one of the best in all of baseball. So yeah, these guys, when these guys are in their last years, their decision-making years, it’s very, very difficult for us personally and professionally.

Desmond is very much in the prime of his career, but there is no telling how he will handle the change in scenery, since he has never known anything other than playing for the Nationals at the MLB level.

While it could be a tough transition, it could just as easily re-energize him and lead to some big-time production after a down year in 2015.

Desmond is easily one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball when he is on his game, and there is a solid chance that he’ll make the Nats regret letting him get away depending on how well he transitions to a new position. 


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Ian Desmond: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on Free-Agent SS

Free-agent MLB shortstop Ian Desmond is reportedly drawing interest on the open market, as he prepares for the next phase of his career.  

Continue for updates.

White Sox Among Teams Interested in Desmond

Thursday, Feb. 11

After spending his first seven seasons with the Washington Nationals, Desmond may well leave the nation’s capital. The multiple potential suitors includes the Chicago White Sox, as reported by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.

Desmond had a bit of a down year at the dish with a career-low .233 batting average in 2015, but he has missed only 18 regular-season games over the past three seasons and plays a key position in the infield. The 30-year-old should be able to command a solid payday whether he remains in Washington or not.

The White Sox have already bolstered their infield this offseason with the additions of second baseman Brett Lawrie and third baseman Todd Frazier. Bringing Desmond into the fold would go even further to bolster optimism for 2016 and beyond.

Any team mulling Desmond has to bear in mind he not only has seen his production dip at the plate in recent years, but his fielding has continued to be erratic.

Desmond made a whopping 27 errors and has had at least 20 in four of the past five seasons. That has to be at least part of the reason he has yet to be signed so close to the dawn of spring training.

MLB.com’s Phil Rogers referenced one factor earlier this month that may be causing the White Sox to hesitate on making the acquisition:

It may be a bit of a pipe dream for Chicago fans to count on Desmond, but a change of scenery may be what the former All-Star needs to bounce back; there’s reason for him to believe in a viable future and fresh start in Chicago.

The same can’t be said with regard to the Nationals. Manager Matt Williams was fired after last season as Washington couldn’t live up to World Series expectations. Plenty of talent remains on the roster, but Desmond could be a big contributor to a White Sox turnaround.

For all the deserved attention the Cubs garnered with their trip to the National League Championship Series this past postseason, their city rival is doing all it can to produce a contender of its own.

The White Sox are deploying a dicier plan, though. They are banking on free-agent quick fixes to help bounce back from a 76-86 record, whereas the Cubs have a burgeoning young core that figures to build on its recent success.

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Predicting Impact MLB Deals That Will Go Down During 2016 Spring Training

With spring training drawing near, we’re all mainly excited for the baseball. It’s our dear friend, and it’s been too long since we last hung out.

But don’t forget about the business, folks. Spring training always brings us a few last-minute deals, and we’re here to take a whack at predicting some of the big ones that will go down this spring.

We don’t have many to get to. Only four. Two involve predicting new homes for a couple big-name free agents. Another involves predicting the spring’s biggest trade. Lastly, there’s no time for contract extensions like spring training, and there’s one in particular on our radar.

Let’s get going with…


Yovani Gallardo Signs with the Baltimore Orioles

Major league clubs have already dropped about $2.5 billion on free agents. If they were to pool all their money together, Forbes says they could afford to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

And there are three big-name free agents still waiting to get theirs: outfielder Dexter Fowler, shortstop Ian Desmond and starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo. How much longer, oh glorious free-agent gods, must they wait?

In the case of Fowler, probably not long. There seems to be more interest in him than there is in Gallardo and Desmond, making it easier to predict that their strolls through the open market will last into spring training.

But eventually, Gallardo should get picked up by the Baltimore Orioles.

Admittedly, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette would advise everyone not to hold their breath. Gallardo is still on the market largely because he’s tied to draft-pick compensation. And for the Orioles, signing him would mean giving up the No. 14 pick in next year’s draft. No small sacrifice, that.

As the man himself recently told his cousin, Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio:

However, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun is of the mind that Gallardo remains a possibility for the Orioles. And as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports wrote, Gallardo’s price could drop to a point that would simply be too good for the Orioles to pass up, lost draft pick be damned.

There’s a good chance of that happening. All the other top arms on what was once a crowded starting pitching market have already signed, putting a dent in the demand for starters. And knowing how they scored Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz a couple springs ago, the Orioles are just the team to take advantage of Gallardo slashing his ticket price.

There’s also the kinda-sorta important note that the Orioles really need Gallardo. They’ve lost ground in the AL East, and a good way for them to make it up would be to repair a starting pitching staff that FanGraphs currently projects as the worst in the American League.

With a 3.46 ERA over the last two seasons, Gallardo could help fix that. And here’s thinking the Orioles could have him on a cheap three-year deal they could potentially make cheaper with an opt-out.


Ian Desmond Signs with the Arizona Diamondbacks

With Gallardo safe and sound in a new home, now we have to find shelter for Ian Desmond. Let’s do that by sending him to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

If you’re thinking this is us going way off the board, well, you’re not wrong. Desmond has been linked to the Tampa Bay Rays, as reported by MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo, and many believe the Chicago White Sox would be a likely landing spot. Not so much the Diamondbacks, though. And after their trade for Jean Segura, they don’t have an obvious home at shortstop.

But if the Diamondbacks want to overcome the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants in the NL West, they need as much firepower as they can get. They also have two apparent advantages over suitors such as the Rays and White Sox.

The Diamondbacks don’t have to worry as much about losing a draft pick to sign Desmond. Where the Rays would lose the No. 13 pick and the White Sox would lose the No. 28 pick, the Diamondbacks would only lose the No. 39 pick. That thing is not like the previous two things.

The Diamondbacks would also seem to have more money to spend. Baseball-Reference.com puts their projected 2016 payroll at about $95 million, which is well short of the franchise’s all-time high of $112 million in 2014. That gives them plenty of room to dip into their new $1.5 billion TV deal.

Signing Desmond would be a good excuse to do so. After averaging roughly 20 home runs per year over the last four seasons, swapping out Nationals Park for the typically homer-friendly Chase Field could allow him to do even better. For the Diamondbacks, the result would be one of the National League’s most dangerous offenses.

Where to play Desmond is more of a hurdle, but not too big of one. The Diamondbacks could sign him as a third base upgrade over Jake Lamb, or as a second base upgrade over Chris Owings. Or, they could sign Desmond to play his natural shortstop, leaving Owings, Segura and Nick Ahmed to battle for playing time at second and third base.

At the rate he’s going, the Diamondbacks might be able to get Desmond on a three- or four-year deal with an early opt-out. If they do, an NL West title wouldn’t sound too crazy.


Milwaukee Brewers Trade Jonathan Lucroy to the Washington Nationals

After going off the board with that last one, let us now return to the board to concoct a trade that would send Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Washington Nationals.

As Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, Brewers general manager David Stearns said this week there’s nothing brewing on Lucroy. But something could start brewing during the spring, when clubs lacking in impact talent behind the dish are more likely to get antsy.

The Nationals could be one of those. Rosenthal and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe have reported they’ve kicked the tires on Lucroy as a possible upgrade over Wilson Ramos. They’re also one of the few teams in the league that can probably afford Lucroy’s price tag.

That’s if Lucroy were to allow a deal to be done, of course. His incredibly team-friendly contract only guarantees him about $4 million more, but it comes with a limited no-trade clause. The Nationals are on his list, according to Rosenthal, so he would have to approve a trade to Washington.

But that’s not necessarily a roadblock. As Rosenthal notes, the Nationals could sway Lucroy by offering him more money:

The Nationals have done this sort of thing before, as they worked something out with Jonathan Papelbon when they traded for him last summer. It’s not hard to imagine them doing the same with Lucroy.

After all, he would be quite a nice upgrade for them behind the dish. Ramos is fine defensively, but not so much offensively. Lucroy owns a .770 career OPS, and yours truly believes his bat didn’t decline as much in 2015 as his final numbers let on. 

To get Lucroy, the Nationals certainly wouldn’t give up either of their top two prospects, Lucas Giolito and Trea Turner. But Victor Robles or Erick Fedde could be in play. Michael A. Taylor is another possibility. He’s only a fourth outfielder on the Nationals and could be appealing to a Brewers club that could very much use a high-upside center fielder.

If the Nats were to get Lucroy, they’d have another weapon for their quest to dethrone the New York Mets in the NL East. And after the Metropolitans re-signed Yoenis Cespedes, such a weapon is arguably necessary.


Baltimore Orioles Extend Manny Machado

Spring training isn’t all about last-minute signings and trades. As Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Buster Posey and Justin Verlander can vouch, it’s a great time to sign extensions worth roughly all of the dollars.

Who’s the best bet for a big-money extension this spring? We’re looking at you, Manny Machado.

Machado has all the trappings of a perfect extension candidate. He’s young but just now entering his prime years. He’s close to free agency but not too close to free agency, with his first foray into the open market set for after 2018. He plays for a club that’s not poor but still needs to worry about controlling costs. And perhaps most important of all, Machado is not a Scott Boras client.

The star third baseman told Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports in October he would love to stay in Baltimore long term, and Duquette has indicated the interest is mutual.

“We’ve already looked at that and we can look at that again,” Duquette said, per Encina. “Manny’s a great player, we’d love to have him long term.”

Coming off an .861 OPS, 35 home runs and a Gold Glove in what was only his age-22 season in 2015, now is a good time for Machado to seek a huge payday. And lest they risk losing him to the pull of free agency by waiting, now is also a good time for the Orioles to oblige him.

To do that, they could take a page out of the Los Angeles Angels’ book.

When the Angels signed Trout to his six-year, $144.5 million extension in 2014, they bought out three arbitration years at reasonable prices and three free-agent years for fair market value at over $34 million per year.

The Orioles could do basically the same thing with a five-year deal for Machado. With the two sides having already settled at $5 million for 2016, the deal could cover his final two arbitration years and three free-agent years. A good amount would be something like $130 million and would allow Machado to hit the open market after his age-28 season.

If that sounds like too much money for the Orioles, bear in mind that Machado’s really expensive years wouldn’t kick in until 2019. Presently, the Orioles only have about $30 million in guaranteed money on the books for that season, according to Spotrac. The deal we made for them and Gallardo wouldn’t change that.


That’s our whack at predicting this spring’s big extension. But between us, you might also want to keep an eye on Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Jake Arrieta, Jacob deGrom and Gerrit Cole.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked.

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Ian Desmond: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation Surrounding Free-Agent SS

Ian Desmond rejected his $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Washington Nationals, per MLB.com’s William Ladson, and suitors are already starting to emerge for the free-agent shortstop.

Continue for updates.

Padres Interested in Desmond

Friday, Nov. 13

Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported the news and provided a key update shortly after Desmond passed on the Nationals’ offer:

Desmond has draft-pick compensation attached to him after receiving and then turning down the qualifying offer,” NBC Sports’ Bill Baer noted. “As a result of finishing with one of the 10 worst records in baseball in 2015, the Padres’ first-round draft pick is protected, so they would give up a second-round pick instead.”

Desmond spent the first seven years of his career in the nation’s capital, but he may be looking for a change of scenery ahead of the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old struggled throughout the 2015 season, batting a career-worst .233 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI, but Desmond’s .292 and .280 averages during the 2012 and 2013 campaigns, respectively, highlighted his tremendous offensive capabilities.

After San Diego shortstop Alexi Amarista batted a putrid .204 with a .257 on-base percentage last season, it’s not hard to see why the club is looking for an upgrade in the infield.

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MLB Free Agents 2016: Early Predictions and Rumors Surrounding Top Sluggers

As the Kansas City Royals celebrate their World Series victory over the New York Mets, MLB teams will waste little time preparing for the offseason.

A few notable World Series participants will quickly shift their focus to free agency. Two drastically different outfielders from each side will hit the open market this winter. While one halted his rapidly rising stock, the other may have boosted his appeal with one monumental swing.

Facing key decisions, the Royals and Mets won’t spend much time basking in their postseason accomplishments. With the offseason beginning, let’s take an early look at three prominent free-agent hitters.


Yoenis Cespedes

Poor postseason aside, Yoenis Cespedes remains one of the offseason’s top free agents. The 30-year-old hit .291/.328/.542 with a career-high 35 home runs, 17 of which he smacked through 57 games with the Mets. Before moving to center field, sensational defense in left led him to a 6.7 WAR, soaring past his previous career best of 3.3. 

His late-season power outburst led the Mets to their first National League East title since 2006, but a report from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman suggests Cespedes‘ status as a midseason rental hasn’t changed. 

“There is increasing belief the Mets will let Yoenis Cespedes walk for big bucks via free agency,” Heyman wrote. “Though Cespedes has played brilliantly for them, people around the game figure they will save the big bucks for their vaunted young pitching staff.”

The postseason has offered a sobering reminder of his flaws. Holding a minuscule 6.1 walk percentage over his career, the aggressive slugger will swing at anything, leading to 17 strikeouts and one walk through 55 playoff plate appearances. There’s a reason he has played on four teams over the past three years, and it’s his .319 career on-base percentage.

Of course, the Mets didn’t mind his poor plate discipline when he clobbered baseballs left and right, but his power barrage priced the outfielder out of their future plans. Playing him in center is also unsustainable over the long haul, and Michael Conforto has left field locked down for 2016 and beyond.

The Detroit Tigers—who dealt him to the Mets last July with the playoffs out of reach—will look to quickly revamp their roster for a return to October baseball. They have the money and willingness to spend big on aging stars, so look for a reunion.

Prediction: Cespedes signs five-year deal with Detroit Tigers


Alex Gordon

If not for Alex Gordon, the Royals are going back to Kansas City to close out the World Series. Instead, he pelted Jeurys Familia for a game-tying home run in the ninth inning of Game 1, making their 14-inning victory possible. The Mets closer had not blown a save since late July before the huge blast.

ESPN Stats & Info also pointed out the rarity of such a clutch World Series dinger:

The playoff heroics can’t hurt the outfielder’s free-agent stock, but he hardly needed the boost. A decade ago, a career .269 hitter who delivers 20 homers during a good year wouldn’t net a massive payday. Now they see a stud who provides Gold Glove defense in left field and an .809 OPS since 2011. 

Veterans with keen plate discipline and gap power age better than pure sluggers, so the 31-year-old outfielder will prove a hot commodity if/when he enacts his opt-out clause for 2016 instead of accruing $12.5 million.

Along with mentioning two fitting suitors, Joel Sherman of the New York Post added another surprising candidate hunting for his services.

“Clubs such as the Astros and Cubs are mentioned in what should be a deep field,” Sherman wrote. “However, a few executives cited one team that has surprised me—the Red Sox.”

The Boston Red Sox have a lot of dough tied up to Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, who will move from left field to first base next season. Yet they still have Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo lined up in the outfield, and any money lying around should go to upgrading their pitching staff.

Gordon would fit well with the Houston Astros or Chicago Cubs, both up-and-coming contenders loaded with young power but in need of depth and outfield defense.

While Kyle Schwarber can rake for the Cubs, he proved a nightmare in left field during the National League Championship Series. Adding Gordon’s superb bat and glove to their young nucleus would bring the Cubs one step closer to snapping a century-long title drought.

Prediction: Gordon signs four-year deal with Chicago Cubs


Ian Desmond

Contrary to Cespedes and Gordon, Ian Desmond did himself no favors this year. Along with snapping a streak of three consecutive 20-20 campaigns, the shortstop hit a dismal .233/.290/.384 while committing 27 errors.

He rebounded from a brutal start, registering a .777 second-half OPS. Yet buyers will beware his diminishing power and rising strikeout rates, both of which have consistently veered in the wrong direction.

According to Heyman, his strong finish will keep teams interested in Desmond, who will almost certainly leave the Washington Nationals with rookie Trea Turner taking his job.

“Many think the Mets will be serious players for free-agent shortstop Ian Desmond,” Heyman wrote. “The Mariners, Padres, White SoxTwins and others could also be in the Desmond market.” 

Wilmer Flores delivers intriguing power at shortstop, but his lack of plate discipline and defensive dependability cloud his future. Same for Daniel Murphy, who will probably parlay his seven postseason homers into a big deal elsewhere. So why in the world would the Mets replace one or both of them with a poor defender who can’t get on base?

The San Diego Padres, on the other hand, desperately targeted power last offseason at the cost of fielding. Although hungry to contend, they don’t have the resources to chase top-tier stars, which leaves them eyeing flawed, high-upside talent like Desmond.

In a dried-out market, look for Desmond to take a short deal in hopes of repairing his value.

Prediction: Desmond signs two-year deal with San Diego Padres


Note: All advanced stats courtesy of FanGraphs

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