Back in November, I wondered if Alexei Ramirez's four-year, $32.5MM deal could be a point of reference for the Nationals and shortstop Ian Desmond in contract extension negotiations. Like Desmond now, Ramirez had three years of Major League service when he signed. Ramirez had better career offensive numbers at that time, though he never reached the 25 home run level Desmond did in 2012.
Desmond, however, has "something of a template" in Elvis Andrus' eight-year, $120MM contract with the Rangers, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. One major difference is that Andrus' contract covers only free agent years, while Desmond will be arbitration eligible for 2014 and '15. Plus, Desmond only has one really good season under his belt, while Andrus has been consistently valuable for four seasons. Desmond does not match Andrus' defensive reputation, though he clearly has more pop. If Desmond does wait until after the season, he'll have four years of service time, and hopefully more of a track record of being an elite shortstop. At that point, I think Alex Gordon's four-year, $37.5MM contract (plus a $12.5MM player option) would be a floor, even though we're straying away from infielder comps. As far as Desmond getting into the $100MM range, I can't picture it unless he posts an MVP-type season.
Desmond didn't have much to say on the topic, explaining to Comak, "I'm trying to do everything I can to win a World Series. Talking about that, or revisiting that, isn't really going to help. We'll see where it goes." GM Mike Rizzo said, "We don’t discuss negotiations with players and that type of thing. But we feel Ian is one of our leaders. He’s one of the guys that is our core players and he’s a guy we’d like to be with the Nationals for a long time."