The start of the regular season is an informal, good-faith deadline for contract extensions. Two marquee players received enormous deals – Justin Verlander’s eight-year, $180-million extension with Detroit and Buster Posey’s nine-year, $167-million deal with San Francisco.
But news of a key-but-lesser-known player’s extension could play a larger role in Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond’s contract future. According to CBSSports.com, Texas’s Elvis Andrus agreed to an eight-year, $120-milion extension two years away from free agency. Tacked onto his existing two-year deal, the Rangers’s commitment to Andrus is $131 million over 10 years. Andrus, a two-time all-star who is 24 years old and represented by Scott Boras, is known for his stellar fielding and boasts a career.694 OPS in four seasons.
Elite shortstops, ones capable with the glove and bat, are hard extremely hard to come by, and the Rangers, despite possessing the top prospect in baseball, shortstop Jurickson Profar, wanted to lock up Andrus. While Andrus may have the edge defensively and is three years younger, Desmond has shown more power with his bat. Any talks between Desmond and the Nationals, however, could now be colored with Andrus’s new deal.
In the past, publicly, both the Nationals and Desmond have been open to the idea of a possible contract extension. Desmond is under team control through the end of the 2015 season. The idea of a possible extension was discussed this winter, when Desmond agreed to a one-year, $3.8 million contract for the 2013 season to avoid arbitration.
Asked about any ongoing negotiations before Monday’s game, Desmond danced around the matter. His answer echoed the sentiment he shared earlier this spring: he sees no need for urgency.
“I’m trying to do everything I can to win a World Series,” Desmond said. “And talking about that or revisiting that isn’t really going to help. So we’ll see where it goes.”
At 27, Desmond became one of the best shortstops in baseball. Last season, he led all shortstops with an .845 OPS and 25 home runs last season, and his defense improved and earned an all-star bid.
“We don’t discuss negotiations with players and that type of thing,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “But we feel Ian is one of our leaders and one of the guys, our core players. He’s a guy we’d like to be with the Nationals for a long time.”
The Nationals approached Desmond about the idea of extension talks during last season and he tabled them because he wanted to focus on the season. While nothing appears imminent between both sides, it is possible talks have been seriously resumed or never reach fruition.