Maybe the best remaining infielder in free agency is Ian Desmond. He’s not going back to the Washington Nationals. But where will he end up? Quite a few teams are looking into the option of signing him, including the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Minnesota Twins, Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians.
Ian Desmond did have an overall disappointing 2015, seeing him lose a lot of his value, yet he still waived the $15.8 million, one-year qualifying offer he had on the table. He made $11 million last season, and expected it to be a catapult towards a contract that’s around $20 million a season. Now, he’s probably going to take a lot less for three or four years, but will look to put an opt out in there after one or two years, hoping he can find his groove again.
A three-time Silver Slugger at shortstop from 2012 to 2014, Desmond hit just .233 with a .674 OPS. He hit 19 home runs and 62 RBIs, all his lowest numbers since 2012. But there was a silver lining: In the second half of the season he bounced back, batting .261/.331/.446, which is quite close to his since-2012 numbers, although with a pretty inconsistent defensive performance.
Landing on either of these teams, all looking to add some offense to their infield, might take some shifting to second or third base, and it’s true that most of them aren’t too keen to give up a draft pick for Desmond. But with the season still approaching and all of the mentioned teams getting a little bit stressed out about adding another player to provide some power, the whole draft-pick thing might get overlooked.
Maybe the most likely place for Desmond will be with the Rays. He’s from Sarasota and has said before he would like to play for the Rays at some point. He and Rays skipper Kevin Cash have the same agent. He’s good friends with Steven Souza, who was a teammate back in Washington. He will be an upgrade to their shortstop position, but right now, maybe more than anyone on this list, the Rays view the draft pick issue as a bug hurdle toward completing a deal, not to mention possibly not being able to offer him the most money.