Should the Nats Trade Ian Desmond?

July 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

It is looking more and more likely that the Nationals could be moving shortstop Ian Desmond come next Sunday's trade deadline. When I initially heard that Desmond might be on the block, I was a little surprised (and not just because I'm the President of the unofficial Ian Desmond Fan Club). While Desmond isn't performing well this year, it seems like an odd time for the Nationals to move him, because is value is so low.

Given that Desmond is under control for 4 more years after this year and his defense alone makes him a valuable player, now seems like a bad time to deal him. At the same time though young controllable shortstops are hard to find, and the Nationals have the depth that they can deal him. There are any number of teams (including some contenders) that could use a shortstop like Desmond. Which means that despite Desmond's poor numbers they could still get a solid return for him.

Desmond's defense has improved as well, despite many still considering it a knock. Sure his errors are higher than you'd like to see (by a good margin), but his range is probably one of the ten best in the league. His errors are improving, and if they are reduced further he would be considered a good defensive shortstop.

Another area where the Nationals miss Desmond is his leadership. Desmond is purported to be one of the hardest workers on the Nationals, one of the first ones at the ball park and always willing to take extra batting practice or fielding. He is usually the first guy out of the dugout when the Nationals take the field, and has all the makings of being a true captain of this squad.

If the Nationals can land a decent return for Desmond then it makes some sense to deal him. Rookie 2nd baseman Danny Espinosa is more than capable of moving over to shortstop, and AAA 2B Steven Lombardozzi, can take over at second. Lombardozzi will be a slight defensive downgrade, but has an .832 OPS in AA and AAA this year. Lombardozzi will turn just 23 this year, and will give the Nationals 6 years of team control after this season.

While dealing Desmond can be a tough pill to swallow, it could workout for the best for Washington. He could be a key piece of a trade for a CF like B.J. Upton or Denard Span, and would allow the Nationals to bring up another quality prospect, who is younger and cheaper long term. The Nationals will miss his defensive value and leadership, as well as his potential, but it would be the price they have to pay for a young CF. It would still be selling low on Desmond overall, but it could very well be the best move for the Nationals.

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