11:02pm: Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets that the Rangers have indeed reached out to Desmond’s camp on what he terms a “fact-finding mission,” but he hears that there have been no substantive negotiations to this point.
Throughout the offseason, there’s been talk that Desmond could draw interest from clubs at a position other than shortstop, though there are a number of obstacles standing between Desmond and an agreement with the Rangers. For starters, Texas has repeatedly been said to be averse to adding further payroll, as they’re already looking at what projects to be a club-record payroll north of $145MM. Beyond that, the Rangers would have to surrender the No. 19 overall pick in the 2016 draft in order to sign Desmond. While that cost isn’t as steep as the draft-pick cost that would face some of Desmond’s other potential suitors (most notably, the Rays), it’s still a definite part of the club’s equation when weighing a run at Desmond. The Rangers picked up the No. 30 overall selection in the draft when Yovani Gallardo signed with Baltimore, though, so they would still have a first-round selection were they to forfeit their top pick for Desmond. That selection wouldn’t move up a spot, however, as the Nationals, who finished with a worse record than the Rangers, would gain a compensatory pick that would slot in ahead of the Rangers’ No. 30 selection.
Desmond endured perhaps his worst full season in the Majors last year, but he did rebound with a .262/.331/.446 second half, during which he homered a dozen times and stole eight bases. As it stands right now, Josh Hamilton is atop the Rangers’ depth chart in left field, but Hamilton is already slated to open the season on the disabled list and is unlikely to be relied upon as an everyday contributor even when fully healthy; given his recent injury history, Hamilton will probably require frequent rest in order to avoid the DL over the course of the season.
The Rangers did add Drew Stubbs on a minor league deal today, creating a bit more depth in their outfield mix, and top prospects such as Nomar Mazara and Lewis Brinson are inching closer to the Majors and could be ready by midseason. Hamilton, additionally, is slated to return to the club in early May, so Texas doesn’t appear to be in dire need of a left fielder — particularly not one that would figure to push the payroll up into the $160MM range for the upcoming season. Learning a new position on the job wouldn’t be an ideal outcome for either the Rangers or Desmond, but at this stage of the offseason, few clubs have definitive openings at shortstop, and the teams that do have such vacancies haven’t expressed significant interest in Desmond, so it’s possible that his eventual team isn’t one that stands out as a readily apparent suitor at the moment.