Texas Rangers rumors: Ian Desmond, free agent outfielder/infielder, is someone the Rangers have shown an interest in bringing back to Texas, and according to Jon Paul Morosi, the Rangers’ talks with Desmond have “intensified” in recent days.
The beat guys have said quite a bit lately that the Rangers’ preference is to have someone more defense-oriented in center field than Desmond, who did an adequate job in 2016 in his first season in the outfield, but who grades out as average at best there. It remains to be seen if the Rangers’ preference would be to use Desmond as a Ben Zobrist-type multi-position player if they bring him back to Texas, or if they’d look at him as an every day centerfielder (or an every day left fielder, should they acquire someone like Adam Eaton as a premium-glove centerfielder).
My feeling when the Rangers signed Desmond last year was that he gave you the most value as a Zobrist-type, allowing Jeff Banister more flexibility with his lineups by allowing him to plug Desmond into multiple spots. I’m bearish on Desmond being able to hit enough to be a quality option in left field going forward, but if you wanted to use Desmond in a way that allowed him to cover multiple positions, and possibly reduce your need for a utility infielder on the bench (especially if you are planning on having Jurickson Profar in a platoon role at, say, first base), then that might work.
The Rangers, by all accounts, loved what Desmond brought as far as attitude, makeup and clubhouse presence, and they clearly prioritize makeup and culture fit, which would be consistent with wanting to bring back Desmond. The projections have had him looking at a 4 year deal at $15-16M per year this offseason, and that’s a bit on the scary side for a guy who didn’t hit well in 2015, or in the second half of 2016.
UPDATE -- T.R. Sullivan throws some cold water on the Desmond rumor, saying that Rangers officials aren’t optimistic about getting something done. Now, whether that means getting something done in the next day or two, or getting something done at all in free agency with Desmond, is open to interpretation, based on Sullivan’s tweet.
Jon Heyman says he’s not hearing anything is close with the Rangers and Desmond, though, so we’ll continue to wait and see.
UPDATE II -- Evan Grant indicates the Rangers have checked back in with Desmond, though he thinks the club is more inclined to try to bring back Carlos Gomez on a short-term deal than go medium- to long-term with Desmond.