Texas Rangers rumors: Ian Desmond's free agent contract this upcoming offseason has been the subject of much speculation around these parts, and in his latest piece, Jon Heyman looks at what he thinks 30 top free agents, including Desmond, will command this offseason.
His "early guess" for Desmond is 4 years, $64 million -- below the 5/$80M I've said I think it will take, although Desmond's poor second half (he has a .238/.287/.370 slash line in 244 post-ASB plate appearances) likely plays a role in that.
I struggle with what to do with Desmond, a versatile, athletic player who gets raves for his makeup and impact in the clubhouse, but who also sports just a .267/.316/.464 slash line for his career, and who has a lot of swing-and-miss in his offense. Desmond turns 31 in four days, and I'm leery about how long he can sustain a level of offensive production that would make him a $16M player -- especially if he ends up having to move to a corner outfield spot from center field in a couple of years.
I expected Desmond to be a Ben Zobrist-esque super utility guy this year, someone who starts 150 games but does so while splitting time at numerous positions, but instead, he has been the every day left fielder, and then the every day center fielder after Delino DeShields lost his job. The versatility Desmond offers increases his value, but that assumes you're willing to utilize him at multiple positions...and of course, if Jurickson Profar is back in 2017, you've already got someone who theoretically fills that super-utility role.
If the price is really 4/$64M, my gut instinct is that the Rangers bring him back at that price, and I think that would probably be okay, though I don't really trust the bat. The 804 OPS Desmond has put up this season isn't likely to be what we get from him going forward, but if he returns to where he was in 2014-15 -- .244/.302/.407 , with 370 Ks in 1289 plate appearances -- then that contract is going to be unpleasant.
Looking through Heyman's list really highlights how paltry this year's free agent class really is -- Brandon Moss and Pedro Alvarez are #28 and #29 on his list, for example. Carlos Beltran is #15 on the list, with Heyman predicting 2 years, $32M for him -- I think the Rangers would have interest in bringing Beltran back next year, and having him and Choo share the DH/RF job, but I am not sure they'd go two years on him. Carlos Gomez, meanwhile, is projected at 1 year, $6M by Heyman.