Entering the season, Ian Desmond carried the reputation of being one of the game’s top all-around shortstops. From 2012-14, he averaged 23 homers and 22 steals per season, hitting .275/.326/.462 and playing passable, if unspectacular defense along the way. Depending on your defensive metrics of choice (DRS considered him below average, while UZR said slightly above average), Desmond was consistently worth about 3.5 to 4.5 wins per season. That kind of track record and the fact that he didn’t turn 30 until this summer made a $100MM+ commitment on the free agent market seem likely. (Desmond had, in fact, already turned down an offer in excess of $100MM from the Nationals, though it was said to come with a large amount of deferred money.)
The first three and a half months of the season, though, could scarcely have been worse. Desmond struggled in the field immensely and even more so at the plate. On July 19, his season batting line bottomed out at an unthinkable and uncharacteristic .204/.248/.324. While that cutoff is admittedly very arbitrary, his production following that date more or less mirrored his excellent numbers from 2012-14; Desmond hit .272/.343/.464 with 12 homers and eight steals over his final 68 contests. Unfortunately for him, his overall season line wasn’t salvageable. He finished his walk year at .233/.290/.384.
The question now facing Desmond is what that ugly three-and-a-half-month run did to his free agent stock. Disastrous first half aside, his strong finish probably did restore some value in the eyes of interested parties, and there’s little else available on the shortstop market. Asdrubal Cabrera is coming off a nice season, but teams have long been wary of his defense and some may view him as a second baseman. Other options such as Jimmy Rollins, Alexei Ramirez and Stephen Drew had equally, if not more disappointing seasons.
While some will suggest that Desmond accept a qualifying offer (if it’s made) or sign a one-year deal to rebuild value, few players want to go the one-year route, and it’d be surprising to see the lone prominent shortstop on the market not end up with a rather sizable multi-year deal. But let’s see what MLBTR readers think.
For this exercise, we’ll focus on the number of guaranteed years, rather than the average annual value of those seasons. Which scenario do you see as most likely?