Of all the long list of teams showing interest in Ian Desmond at one point or another this offseason, it seems that maybe three can be considered somewhat close to signing him: The Colorado Rockies, Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago White Sox.
With training camps just around the corner, Desmond is one of three qualifying offer free agents left on the market. It means there’s a draft pick that has to be given up in order to sign him, which has made that, his asking price and his disappointing 2015 season something of a deterrence to a lot of teams, despite Desmond more or less displaying impressive hitting numbers for a shortstop in recent years, with good reason to believe he can bounce back from 2015, in which he batted .233 with 19 home runs and a .674 OPS.
The Rockies have been in contact with his team quite recently, although their interest in Desmond has a lot to do with how much suspension time Jose Reyes, their projected starting shortstop, will get regarding his domestic violence allegations, to which he pleaded not guilty. The Rockies, unlike other teams, have a protected first pick in the draft, which means the one they’ll have to give up for him isn’t something that holds a team back when signing a free agent. Add that to the potential of what his power can do at Coors Field and you get a rather welcome combination.
Even with Desmond the Rockies aren’t likely to be contenders in the NL West, but considering he had a good second half to last season (.262/.331/.446) and the fact that he’s not going to be signing any long term contract, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem moving him in the middle of the season if the need arises. At shortstop or maybe even designated hitter depending on the need, there will be interest in him as a midseason trade.
Both the White Sox and the Rays have been in contact with Desmond but aren’t huge fans of giving up their draft picks. The Rays have more of a need at shortstop but the 13th overall pick is one they’re really keen on keeping considering the offer out there. The White Sox are more about finding an outfielder (Desmond doesn’t play outfield), not to mention having Tim Anderson and Tyler Saladino as good options to cover at the position.
Desmond hit 69 home runs while batting .275 and winning three silver slugger awards for the Washington Nationals from 2012 to 2014. He rejected a big extension thinking 2015 was going to put him in line for a long term contract on around $20 million a season. Things didn’t go well, he rejected the $15.8 million qualifying offer and is now left without a team in the second half of February, and no eager suitors knocking on his door.