Colorado Rockies: Ian Desmond Signing Named Worst Transaction of the Offseason
According to Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, the Ian Desmond signing made by the Colorado Rockies was the worst of the offseason despite its benefits.
While certainly one of the riskiest decisions any team made this winter, it could end up saving the Rockies from a lot of headaches.
In his piece, Cameron cites the obvious flaws in this deal along with many other valid points as to why this was such a bad deal. The biggest of them all is that Desmond will begin the year as the Colorado Rockies’ first baseman. This was questionable from the start and still has many people scratching their heads.
Desmond has never played first base before at the MLB level. His career has been spent almost entirely at shortstop. The Texas Rangers changed this when they transformed him into an outfielder last year. That decision was met with a few raised eyebrows. Only because it was a one-year deal at a bargain were many willing to accept the change. Desmond had also played poorly at shortstop for several seasons. A change of position felt right.
The Rangers’ experiment with Desmond in the outfield was successful if only because it got his terrific bat into the lineup. He slashed an amazing .285/.335/.446 with 22 home runs and 86 RBI.
When calling this the worst offseason signing, Cameron does not attack Desmond as a bad player. Instead, a major point is that there were an abundance of free agent options out there. The Rockies went with a non-first baseman when plenty of bargains were available. Even with Spring Training workouts underway, some of those players remain unsigned.
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The counter argument is one which stems from pessimism. Desmond is not a typical first baseman. He probably will never fill in this role. What he offers Colorado is flexibility in the field. An injury, a trade, or a free agent leaving would create a hole in the Rockies lineup. In most cases, Desmond could fill the void. If he has survived as a shortstop and center fielder, he should have the ability to make it at any position.
The Rockies already have several big name players dreaming of free agent dollars. Right fielder Carlos Gonzalez is in the final year of his deal. Next offseason, the Rockies may say goodbye to center fielder Charlie Blackmon and second baseman DJ LeMahieu. If they do, the Rockies can get a little more creative now that they have Desmond on the roster.
There is a great possibility Desmond’s time at first base is limited to the 2017 season. Where he goes from there is anyone’s guess, although the outfield looks most likely. He may never become the super utility man that Ben Zobrist or Brock Holt have established themselves as. Regardless of this, the Rockies have a safety net in employing Desmond.
By signing Desmond the Rockies have opened more possibilities for the 2018 season. On paper it looks odd because Desmond is not a match for many other first basemen. If we think of him as just a ball player then the Desmond signing looks a lot better.