What a difference a year makes.
This time last year Ian Desmond won his third straight Silver Slugger award for being the best offensive shortstop in the National League and turned down a seven-year, $107 million contract extension from the Washington Nationals. In 2015, Desmond batted .233 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI, producing 1.7 wins above replacement. Fangraphs valued that production at $13.7 million dollars, or $8 million per fWAR. The 30-year-old made $11 million last season with Washington and turned down a qualifying offer, which was a one-year, $15.8 million deal, figuring he would make more on the open market.
There were clear signs of his decline. Desmond’s offensive prowess, measured by weighted runs created, was in decline, going from 28 percent above league average in 2012 to 8 percent above in 2014, while his strikeout rate ballooned from 22.1 to 28.2 in just one season, rising again in 2015 to 29.2 percent.
Let’s say a team gets over the hurdle of forfeiting their first-round pick in the coming draft to sign Desmond. In 2016, Steamer projections have him batting .236 with 17 home runs and a 1.5 fWAR for his next team, worth approximately $12.1 million on the open market. That would project him to rank 22nd among shortstops. There is speculation that perhaps Desmond would also be used in the outfield. If that was the case, his production is expected to rank 46th in MLB.
And if we subtract half a win each year for aging, while increasing the cost of a win in free agency by 5 percent each year, Desmond would be worth $20.4 million on a two-year deal or $24.8 million on a three-year deal.