As the Washington Nationals have grown from a wayward franchise into a respected National League force, few players have meant more to them than Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond. Both debuted in 2009, perhaps the Nationals' darkest season, and their rise coincided with the team's. Over the past three seasons, according to the catch-all metric Wins Above Replacement, they have been the Nationals' most valuable hitter and pitcher. They are the most prized of baseball commodities: bona fide homegrown stars, the kind of players teams devote millions to find, develop and, finally, keep.
Jeff Curry/Getty Images