As the offseason gets closer, the hot stove is going to continue to heat up. One of the storylines around baseball this winter is going to be what happens to some of the Washington Nationals’ big free agents such as shortstop Ian Desmond and starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann. Earlier this week, Dennis Lin, the Padres’ beat writer for the San Diego-Union Tribute tweeted that there are people in the Pads’ organization who think Desmond is a good fit for their organization:
This year, Padres’ shortstops have hit a combined .230, which is one of the lower batting averages in baseball at the position and they have combined to hit 14 home runs (eight of them by Jedd Gyorko). With Desmond hitting 19 home runs this season, San Diego could use some power at the position, but they do play in a pitcher friendly ballpark.
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During his career, Desmond has played 18 games at PETCO Park and has hit .236 with three home runs and eight RBI’s. But, he is 10-for-29 in that stadium over the last two seasons. Even though Desmond has had a disappointing 2015 season, you would think he is still going to get a good contract based on the fact that there won’t be many high-end shortstops available on the free agent market.
What could be unique about this whole situation should Desmond sign with San Diego is general manager A.J. Preller. Preller was one of the more aggressive GM’s this past winter in acquiring pieces for San Diego, but the Pads are going to finish in fourth place in the NL West this season.
One of the moves that Preller made this past winter was the three team deal with the Rays and Nationals n which he got outfielder Wil Myers, but sent pitching prospects Joe Ross and shortstop prospect Trea Turner to Washington. With both Ross and Turner contributing to the Nats this season, would Preller be willing to send another first round pick to the Nation’s Capital?
Remember, if the Nationals decide to offer Desmond a qualifying offer, whoever signs him has to give up their first round pick and the Nats will get a compensatory pick. Since San Diego is not going to have a protected top ten pick, this rule would apply to them as signing Desmond would mean forfeiting their first round selection.
Mark Whelan of the Padres’ Fansided site, Friars On Base, wrote about this news as well and said while Desmond’s defensive struggles are widely known, the Padres are a team that won’t shy away from Desmond because of his many errors:
"“In the three-ring circus that has become the Washington Nationals, Ian Desmond has developed into a steady, mature veteran. He’s got power, averaging 22 homers a year for the past four seasons. He’s been a middle-of-the-lineup guy, topping 80 RBI in 2013 and 2014. General Manager A.J. Preller’s strategy so far has been to pick up players who improve the offense, even if it means a drop-off in defense (see Matt Kemp, Wil Myers). Desmond seems to fit into that mold.”"
San Diego has talent, but do they have enough to risk a first round pick on a shortstop of Desmond’s caliber? Plus, is Preller willing to watch another pick go to the Nationals after seeing the success of Turner and Ross? Those two factors make it seem like Desmond wouldn’t be a fit for the Padres, but they should be one of his suitors. Plus, it would be interesting to watch Desmond in San Diego while Turner becomes the Nats’ new shortstop.