2016 Fantasy Baseball: Texas Rangers Sign Ian Desmond
Every offseason there is always one guy that stays on the board way too long. Sometimes their agent overplays their hand or sometimes they just don’t have the value on the open market that everyone thought they had. In this case, the qualifying offer reared it’s ugly head. The Washington Nationals made Ian Desmond a qualifying offer which meant that a draft pick would be attached. Teams with holes at shortstop went in different directions to avoid surrendering a draft pick.
The Texas Rangers ended Desmond’s wait in free agent purgatory. The two agreed on a one year, eight million dollar contract. The move was a bit of a surprise since the Rangers seem set in the infield. Unfortunately for Desmond, there weren’t many places with shortstop openings left, so he and the Rangers got creative and agreed on a one year deal.
Why the Rangers made this deal
Occasionally, teams with some financial flexibility get to make moves like this. The Rangers don’t have any holes per se, but they may not have a ton of depth in the outfield. Ian Desmond isn’t an outfielder, but he is fairly athletic and the club already used a converted infielder (Delino Deshields Jr.) in the outfield last season with a great deal of success. Josh Hamilton is beginning the season on the disabled list, so they are looking for someone to fill that hole. When he comes back, they will be able to jumble that lineup in any number of ways to get Desmond 400 to 500 plate appearances.
No one is really sure how much Hamilton has left in the tank anyway. So, getting Desmond provides the best insurance for if Hamilton has nothing left. It also gives their roster more flexibility because he can plausibly play shortstop, second base, and third base in addition to left field. If the Rangers had gone the other way (signing say Austin Jackson) they wouldn’t have had that flexibility.
Desmond has hit 19 or more home runs in each season since 2012. He collected those numbers as a shortstop in a park that was slightly better than neutral (104 for 2016) in comparison with Texas (109 for 2016). Traditionally, Arlington has been considered the best hitter’s park in the American League. So, Desmond can put up some impressive numbers and reestablish his value all while shoring up a smaller hole in the Rangers lineup.
What this deal means for you
This one a is a risk/reward move for the Rangers and for the fantasy baseball player. If this move works out then Desmond will play left field two or three times a week while playing second, short, and third maybe once a week each. If that happens he will get his customary 500 or more plate appearances and be eligible at four different positions. If he manages to get that much playing time, he would appear to be as good a bet as any to hit more than 20 home runs and steal more than ten bases as he has almost every other season since 2012.
The risk is that Desmond doesn’t have a defined position with the team. If Hamilton begins hitting and if the three infielders (Adrian Beltre, Rougned Odor, and Elvis Andrus) all perform well, then he’ll be a man without a position. There is little chance that Desmond won’t get at least 300 plate appearances, but the Rangers took a slight financial risk and he took a huge risk in stepping into this situation.