Toronto Blue Jays outfield targets: Big names to watch in free agency, trades
Ian Desmond – 31 years old
Texas Rangers (Formerly Washington Nationals)
Desmond, a 2004 selection of the Montreal Expos, has been a fascinating case to watch over the past two years.
Entering the 2014 season, Desmond turned down a seven-year, $107 million contract offer from the Washington Nationals (as reported at the time by Bill Ladson). Instead, the two sides agreed to a smaller two-year deal to close out his arbitration years. Desmond had bet on himself, and early on, he lost.
Following a 2014 that was right on par with his career averages, Desmond experienced a down year in 2015 (.674 OPS, 1.7 WAR) and entered the free agent market with his value significantly lower than it had been. A career shortstop, Desmond signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers where he’s re-emerged as an outfielder.
His defence in centre certainly didn’t match the value he once provided at shortstop, but all things considered, the transition went smoothly. The Blue Jays saw first-hand in the ALDS that he’s still not a “natural” in the outfield, though.
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One standout value of Desmond is his ability to stay on the field, something Toronto didn’t always get from Saunders or Bautista (though the sprinkler head incident can not be put on Saunders). Desmond has played in 154 or more games in six of the past seven seasons.
He also comes with some speed and a good understanding of base running, something the Blue Jays will be targeting this offseason. Mixed with his power, Desmond is a legitimate candidate to hit 20 home runs with 20 steals each and every season.
Desmond is due for a nice raise from the one-year, $8 million deal he just finished with the Rangers, and will be one of the more coveted players on the free agent market.
Up Next: He’s World Series bound