The Texas Rangers have made a late addition to their roster, agreeing to terms on a one-year, $8 million contract with shortstop Ian Desmond, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal is pending a physical.
After spending the entire offseason unsigned, Desmond will head west and join the Rangers, officially ending his seven-year stint with the Washington Nationals. Despite a down year in 2015, hitting a meager.233 with 19 HR and 62 RBI, Desmond was looking for a multi-year deal this offseason.
A shortstop for his entire career, Desmond will officially switch positions and play left field in 2016.
LF will be Desmond’s primary position with #Rangers, but he also could bounce around Zobrist-like if injuries occur or others under-perform.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 28, 2016
By signing Desmond, the Rangers will also forfeit their 19th overall draft pick this year, Rosenthal notes. However, the team can “recoup” that draft pick by extending their own qualifying offer to Desmond after 2016.
Now-former teammate Bryce Harper gave Desmond a sterling endorsement earlier this week, telling Rosenthal that baseball needs to change its draft-pick compensation system.
“I don’t think there is a draft pick out there who is better than Ian Desmond. I don’t there is a draft pick out there who is a better guy or person in the clubhouse than him. Hopefully, he gets the opportunity, a chance to play for a team. And once they get him, it will definitely be a diamond that nobody else wanted.”
Desmond, 30, has left a lot of money on the table in hopes of landing a megadeal. In 2013, the Nationals reportedly offered the slugging shortstop a seven-year, $107 million contract, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. While that deal included several deferred payments, it still would’ve guaranteed Desmond a robust salary, much higher than the $8 million he will sign for with the Rangers.
Playing a premium position, Desmond’s value was thought to be sky high. Since his breakout, All-Star season in 2012, the Sarasota, Florida, native has been the best power hitting shortstop in baseball, averaging 22 HR and 76 RBI. In total, Desmond has contributed 88 HR and 306 RBI in that time.
However, much like many home run hitters, Desmond will strike out a lot. Since 2012, Desmond has not struck out less than 113 times in a season, posting a career-high 187 whiffs at the plate last year. As he gets into his mid-30s, Desmond’s strikeouts will be an important element to monitor.
Outside of brief cameos at second base and right field during his first two seasons, Desmond has primarily been a shortstop. According to FanGraphs, Desmond’s defense at shortstop for his career rates out as slightly below average based on UZR/150 (-1.3) and defensive runs saved (-19),
“I know he was disappointed that he didn’t play as well as (in the past),” Desmond’s now former teammate Max Scherzer said to Rosenthal. “But you could still see his talent. You could still see him make plays at short. You could see the power. You could see the speed. You just don’t find that out of a shortstop.”
The most prominent chatter surrounding Desmond this offseason has been a position switch, showing off his versatility. Since the Rangers have Elvis Andrus plugged in at shortstop, the outfield was the only viable way to fit Desmond into the Rangers’ lineup.
Troubled outfielder Josh Hamilton will miss the first month of the season as he recovers from a knee ailment. Therefore, the Rangers’ Opening Day lineup will likely feature Desmond in left field, Delino DeShields Jr. in center field, and Shin-Soo Choo in right field. The Rangers also have Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Rua as outfield options.
[Featured Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images]