The once-promising career of Ian Desmond has been derailed of late. After signing a one-year, $8 million deal to play left field for the Texas Rangers, it is obvious to me that he and his representatives have no clue what they are doing. His value is plummeting and playing a new position on a one-year deal is not the answer for him.
Desmond has shown a steady decline in his offensive numbers. His batting average, on-base percentage, and home runs have all declined for four straight years. In 2012 Desmond hit 25 homers while hitting .292 with a .335 on-base percentage. Last year he hit .233 with 19 home runs and a .290 on-base percentage. Those are numbers that cannot be ignored.
Still though, a shortstop who hits 20 home runs is nothing to sneeze at. He still has value at the position and is capable of having a bounce back year. His steady trend downward makes a complete bounce-back a difficult task, but if he works hard enough he could regain some of his offensive consistency.
His range might be down a little bit at shortstop, but he is still an average defender. He will not make stupendous diving catches for you, but he is very capable of being a steady defender at the position. A steady defender at a mostly weak offensive position still has value — but wait, he is going to play left field.
Putting Desmond in left does nothing for his value. If anything it hurts it. People will argue it shows he is versatile, but a .250 hitter with 20 home runs in the outfield is an average player at best. The Rangers hope he can emerge into some huge offensive force, but I would not hold my breath on that assumption.
I don’t blame Ian Desmond for all this mess. It was his representatives who turned down an extension with the Washington Nationals, reportedly for seven years and $107 million. Desmond would snatch up that offer now without batting an eye, but that offer was before the 2013 season and it is long gone. That might go down as one of the biggest bonehead moves ever by a major league player and his representatives.
Fast forward to this offseason when Desmond had the opportunity to take the Nationals’ qualifying offer at $15.8 million. He again declined and decided he would get a huge paycheck on the open market. Any common fan could assess the free agent market and come to the conclusion that he would not be in high demand.
The most logical place for Desmond to land was with the San Diego Padres. The team desperately needed a shortstop after a season with Alexi Amarista, Clint Barmes, and Jedd Gyorko at the position. However, you could see after the deals of Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit that the team had no intention of taking on major salary. Factor in that the team has been rumored to be trying to move Matt Kemp and James Shields and there was no way in hell the Padres were going to make any attempt to sign Desmond.
The market could have been evaluated better and Desmond should have easily taken the qualifying offer to boost his value with one more year in Washington. Instead he takes more than seven million dollars less to play the outfield. Ridiculous move after ridiculous move.
Desmond’s value is as a shortstop, and with Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar on the Rangers roster, there is just no way he will ever sniff the infield. He could play some third base, but the Rangers have Adrian Beltre and Joey Gallo at third. I guy like Desmond could have not have picked a worse place to play and hopefully boost his value. Josh Hamilton will be back eventually and he will play. I can easily see Desmond sitting two or three games a week for the Rangers.
Of course this is baseball and anything can happen. Still you have to put yourself in a position to succeed. Desmond’s representatives have not done that. Instead they have constantly put pressure on the 30-year-old shortstop. Once again he will not have a long-term deal and he has to worry about learning a new position. The game of baseball is difficult enough to play. You certainly do not need these constant distractions. Best of luck to Desmond but he has an uphill climb all the way.