There are reports that the Washington Nationals making priority for the offseason is securing their stellar infield. Of course every team is lacking in more than one area but it appears that the Nationals are most concerned with shortstop Ian Desmond and keeping him in D.C. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes,
“The most pressing issue of the offseason may be signing Desmond to a long-term contract extension. Shortstops who can hit 25 homers, steal 20 bases, play solid defense and provide leadership are not easy to find.”
They already have second basemanAnthony Rendon who played third base for most of the season, really making this mark in 2014. His name was mentioned in MVP conversations because of his sudden break out after being moved to third. At just 24 and not even arbitration eligible until 2017, you can expect that he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Ryan Zimmerman will likely take over at first base due to the injuries he suffered last season, mainly an injured hamstring. Not as agile as he once was playing third base, the 30-year old’s move to first should take less of a tole on his body. Plus, hes’s under team control through 2019 with an option for 2020.
During the 2014 season the Nationals acquired 28-year old, eight-year big league veteran, Asdrubal Cabrera to play second base in place of struggling back up Danny Espinosa. Cabrera played very well down the stretch and in the playoffs for Washington.
With a very small free agent pool throughout all the infield positions this season, the Nationals should end up holding onto Cabrera, who despite hitting just .241 on the year, Cabrera is a two-time All-Star who’s proven himself on the field for the Nats, who is still young. They may be able to keep him with a qualifying offer.
That leaves Adam LaRoche as the odd man out. While he’s been quoted as saying he’d like to stay in Washington, the 34-year-old understands that there really just isn’t room for him on the team. Reports have said that the Nats are unlikely to pick up his option for 2015.
Which brings up the shortstop that this story is about, Ian Desmond. Desmond and the Nationals talked in the offseason and it’s been reported that Demond turned down an offer worth $90 million. Still, the Nationals need Desmond.
As previously mentioned the the free agent pool of infielders is slim this season. Their other main choices would be the Oakland A’s Jed Lowrie or Hanley Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers, both of whom will be on the more expensive side even though both are seemingly on the decline. If they are going to spend the money. It should be on someone that has proven himself to them.
The Nationals have already shown how badly they want to keep Desmond by throwing so much money at him last year but it is clear that even though his on base percentage took a drop in 2014, he also hit 24 home runs and drove in 91 runs. He’s solid defensively at his position.
According to Kilgore, the Nationals need to do their best to make Desmond a priority because he,
“…also displayed a rare blend of power and speed for a shortstop, hitting 24 homers and stealing 24 bases.”
There’s a chance that the Nationals won’t be able to sign Desmond which leaves them few options to go to for shortstop and they would not have the same kind of production from another shortstop. Desmond’s speed, clutch timing and power hitting when added with rock solid stellar defense makes Desmond a commodity that the Nationals shouldn’t even gamble on possibly losing.
So it’s a good thing for the Nats’ fans that publications such as the Washington Post have been reporting that the Nationals main priority this offseason is coming to terms with Desmond. Their infield will be very dynamic with Zimmerman, Cabrera, Rendon and Desmond.
The Washington Nationals would not be smart to let anyone in that infield walk away and the first one with a chance is Desmond. It appears the Nats have their priorites lined up correctly.