Padres Editorial: Looking Forward- Ian Desmond

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Mandatory Credit: CDN
Mandatory Credit: CDN

The San Diego Padres have been on the lookout for a shortstop for the past couple of seasons. Not since Khalil Greene have the Padres had an everyday shortstop that they can count on. Everth Cabrera was an All-Star shortstop, but he was often hurt and missed a lot of time. Cabrera also had a PED suspension and a run in with the California Highway Patrol. Both shortstops were important pieces to their teams offense.

The Padres franchise has been lacking a quality shortstop for a great deal of time and a possible answer could be found soon. In the off-season Ian Desmond is set to become a free agent and the longtime Washington Nationals shortstop, could be on the Padres radar. Desmond is a seven-year veteran with a career .264 batting average and 98 career home runs with 114 stolen bases.

Ian Desmond rejected a contract extension from the Nationals in March of 2014. The reported offer was for anywhere between $80-120 million at approximately seven years. Desmond has had three consecutive 20 plus home run seasons. That is very impressive as the shortstop position is traditionally a weak hitting position. He provides an offensive force at the position, but his defense has been a struggle of late.

Desmond has been an average Major League shortstop for his career. This season however, his fielding has been horrendous. He has already committed 20 errors this season in 733 innings. His .946 fielding percentage is well below the league average of .973 for all Major League shortstops. Desmond will not win any awards with the glove, so his value truly lies with his bat.

Not only has Desmond had a terrible year defensively, but his bat too has suffered big time. Hitting .211 with seven homers and 24 RBI’s is not what he envisioned on his contract year. 99 strike outs so far in 323 at bats is easily on par for his career worst as well. Desmond is an absolute mess right now and those within his camp surely wish they would have taken that contract extension last spring.

Ian Desmond struck out a career high 183 times last season. He is a strike out machine and if you factor in his poor defense, the Padres shouldn’t waste their time entertaining him. Desmond would also be 30 years old when his new contract would start. His value is plummeting at the moment and he surely will not get anywhere near the $80-120 million he was reportedly offered.

The fact that Desmond provides instant offense to a generally weak position will be his asset. He should have no trouble finding a home for the 2016 season and beyond. Desmond has been consistent in playing almost every game the past six seasons. He missed 30 games in 2012 with an oblique injury, but other than that has been out there everyday for the Nationals. That in itself holds a lot of value. His four straight seasons of 20 plus stolen bases is also a positive thing for him. Speed and power are great tools to have for a ball player.

Mandatory Credit: Washington Post
Mandatory Credit: Washington Post

On a team that was built differently than the Padres, I would highly recommend Desmond. However the Padres are already too right handed in the lineup. The team also strikes out too much and has issues defensively. To add another player with the same skill set will result in what the Padres have right now. An inconsistent team that has no identity. A baseball team is a cohesive group and must be constructed with each players contributions to the team kept in mind.

Ian Desmond just doesn’t fit the current profile of the team. However I highly doubt the current look of the team will resemble what Padres fans see on the field next season. With that being said, if the Padres rearrange their lineup and defense, and Desmond’s value falls to a bargain basement price. A.J. Preller might just kick the tires on him. A lot has to do with what the Padres currently have at shortstop at the time.

One would hope that the team addresses the need sooner rather than later. To wait until the off-season to target a shortstop would result in more Alexi Amarista and Clint Barmes at shortstop. Not a very appealing thought for most Padres fans. The shortstop problem could be addressed very soon as the team is likely to move Justin Upton, Will Venable, Joaquin Benoit and Ian Kennedy on or before the July 31st deadline.

Ian Desmond could very well be on the Padres radar but he would need to be affordable and he would have to fit the profile of the team. To gamble and throw a bunch of money at a player just because you have a need at that position wouldn’t be the smartest of moves. One would have to imagine the fact the Padres have taken so long to address the shortstop issue indicates that Padres management has some sort of plan. We will just have to wait and see what A.J. has up his sleeve.

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