Players are beginning to report to Spring Training, but Ian Desmond remains one of three free agents left on the market that is tied to draft-pick compensation. According to the latest report from FOX’s Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox and Rays have both had recent contact with Desmond, and the Rockies, too, have been in touch with his representatives. It’s not clear whether Colorado reached out to Desmond’s camp or vice versa, nor is the severity of the Rockies’ interest known at this time. Rosenthal does, however, note that any pursuit of Desmond would perhaps unsurprisingly be heavily dependent on commissioner Rob Manfred’s course of action in disciplining incumbent shortstop Jose Reyes, who seems likely to be suspended due to his offseason domestic violence charges (though Reyes did plead not guilty last month). Reyes has a trial set for April 4, though Rosenthal notes that Manfred seems likely to act before that time, as that date lies after Opening Day.
As Rosenthal points out, the Rockies wouldn’t pay Reyes for any length of time for which he is suspended, and their No. 4 overall draft pick is protected, meaning that Desmond would require the forfeiture of the Rockies’ No. 38 overall selection, instead. From Desmond’s standpoint, it would seem like Coors Field is an optimal place to attempt to rebuild his value on a one-year deal, although it’s at least worth noting that teams can, in some cases, be wary of a player’s production at altitude (though it’s worth noting that some research has suggested that players who call Coors Field home are negatively impacted in terms of road performance). The Rockies do have an alternative to Reyes in the form of well-regarded shortstop prospect Trevor Story, though Story, of course, isn’t MLB tested at this point.
While the Rays and White Sox have spoken with Desmond, Rosenthal hears that the Rays aren’t likely to part with the 13th overall pick to sign him, and the White Sox are more focused on finding an outfielder on the trade market than they are on Desmond. Chicago does have one of the game’s top prospects, Tim Anderson, nearing the Major Leagues, and he could step into their shortstop vacancy this season, with defensive standout Tyler Saladino manning the position until that time.
The Rockies make some sense for Desmond, on paper anyway, if they plan to take a shot at contending this season, and the rest of their offseason dealings suggest that they do. Colorado has added Jake McGee, Jason Motte and Chad Qualls to its bullpen while also signing Gerardo Parra to a three-year deal. The Rockies seem like a long shot to contend in what should be a much-improved NL West, although the club’s offense should be potent and the bullpen stands to serve as a much more productive unit, especially if closer Adam Ottavino can contribute a half-season or so worth of innings once he is recovered from Tommy John. Starting pitching, of course, is the elephant in the room when looking at the Rockies, although if things go south, the team can always seek to trade Desmond in the event that he further distances himself from last season’s dreadful first half. Desmond did rebound with a .262/.331/.446 slash in the second half last year, and a few solid months of production could make him an appealing target to teams seeking midseason upgrades to their middle infield.