The Nationals’ “approach with Ian Desmond has not changed one bit since the end of last season,” GM Mike Rizzo told reporters (including MLB.com’s Bill Ladson) today during a conference call. “Ian Desmond is our shortstop. He is the leader of our team. He is one of the best shortstops in all of baseball, and he is going to be the shortstop of the Washington Nationals. With that said, if a deal comes up that we can’t refuse, we will always look to improve ourselves for 2015 and beyond. But it’s hard to replace one of the best shortstops in all of baseball. The deal would have to be pretty elaborate not to have Ian Desmond on this team.” Of course, such a “pretty elaborate” trade was reportedly discussed between the Nats, Mets and Rays earlier this winter that would’ve sent Desmond to the Mets. Here’s some more from the nation’s capital…
- While that three-team deal was scuttled when the Rays dealt Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to Oakland, it’s still “not out of the question” that Desmond could be dealt to the Mets, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets. “Nothing is imminent” between the two sides, however.
- Executives around the league who have spoken to the Nationals say the team is still trying to move Desmond, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports (Twitter link). The Nats’ claim that Escobar was acquired to play second base is “spin.” During the conference call, Rizzo was confident that Escobar would fit into the Nationals’ clubhouse and have no problems adjusting to second base.
- The Nationals’ acquisition of Escobar for Tyler Clippard is criticized by Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post. Boswell opines that the trade was a “Plan C” option from a Nats team that couldn’t pull the trigger on preferred offseason moves, and that the trade threatens to weaken both the Nationals’ bullpen and their clubhouse chemistry.
- Escobar’s presence also seems to imply that Desmond’s time in Washington could be up, as Boswell notes that a big extension for the star shortstop doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. The ongoing dispute between the Nationals and Orioles about MASN broadcasting rights could be a reason why Desmond hasn’t been extended, as Boswell hears from two sources that the Lerner family is “almost phobic about knowing their future revenues before spending.”