A year ago at this time, it would have been hard to imagine Ian Desmond being a free agent on February 26. Desmond had just won his third-straight Silver Slugger award, becoming the first National League shortstop since Barry Larkin in 1992 to win the award in three straight seasons. From 2012-2014, Desmond batted .275/.326/.462 with an average of 23 home runs, 81 RBI and 22 steals per season.
Then came last season—which was nothing short of a disaster for Desmond. The shortstop batted .233/.290/.384 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI and 13 steals. His contract year could not have come at a worse time, as Desmond currently sits on the clearance rack of MLB free agents.
Desmond’s diminished asking price would have made him a much better fit for the Diamondbacks than Jean Segura, as Desmond has a bigger upside and would come at a lower price. Adding Desmond into the mix would have been a huge offensive improvement over the light-hitting Nick Ahmed—compared to Segura who is only marginally better offensively.
A one-year commitment probably would work for Desmond, compared to Segura who is under team control until 2018. If Desmond could return to his past form and prove that 2015 was a fluke, he could be in for a huge payday next winter. Additionally, he would likely come at a much lower price than the production he used to put up.
Jean Segura is making $2.6 million this season, so Desmond would have cost more financially. But the Diamondbacks would not have had to trade Chase Anderson, who for all of his faults is a solid back-of-the-rotation-pitcher, and underrated prospect Isan Diaz to get Desmond. Getting someone capable of hitting 20 home runs—especially at a position like shortstop—would be terrific for the Diamondbacks, who ranked seventh in the National League in home runs.
Had Desmond been a free agent a year earlier, he could have gotten upwards of $100 million dollars. Shortstops who can hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases don’t grow on trees. Picking up Desmond off of the clearance rack would have solidified the team in a much stronger fashion than Jean Segura would.