Desmond has undoubtedly been one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball over the past few years. He won the National League Silver Slugger Award at his position every year from 2012 through 2014, and he is a one-time All-Star selection.
Despite that, Jim Bowden of ESPN reported the plan is for Desmond to be the team's starting left fielder for the 2016 season. Rosenthal added that left field will be Desmond's primary position, but he could move around the field based on injuries or performance.
The 2015 campaign was a struggle for him, though, as he hit a career-low .233 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI, and Washington missed the playoffs. With that said, his play improved significantly after the All-Star break.
Desmond is just one year removed from his most productive season to date. He posted 24 home runs, a career-high 91 RBI and 24 stolen bases in 2014.
Few players in Major League Baseball have a power-speed combination comparable to Desmond's, which is why the 30-year-old veteran was so coveted on the open market.
The Nationals were in a difficult situation with Desmond. He was one of their best offensive players, but they could not work out an extension, per Ladson. He was constantly the subject of trade rumors as well, but Washington opted to keep him in 2015, which resulted in the organization ultimately losing him for nothing.
When asked about his desire to remain with the Nationals long term prior to the 2015 season, Desmond made it clear that he was interested in doing so, according to Ladson.
"Do I want to be a National (beyond 2015)? Yes," he said. "Do I think, at this particular moment, I will be? I don't know. I cannot give you an answer on that. We'll see. I know 2015 is coming fast. I'm excited to get back out there. I think we have a lot to prove. We have a hungry bunch coming in 2015."
It eventually became apparent that the two sides were reaching the end of their time together, however. It was so obvious, in fact, that his final game of 2015 was treated as a farewell of sorts.
After that contest, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo discussed how much Desmond meant to the team over the years, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post:
Ian Desmond is the rock of the organization. A guy that when I became the GM we made him the everyday shortstop, and (he) has blossomed into one of the best in all of baseball. So yeah, these guys, when these guys are in their last years, their decision-making years, it's very, very difficult for us personally and professionally.
Desmond is very much in the prime of his career, but there is no telling how he will handle the change in scenery, since he has never known anything other than playing for the Nationals at the MLB level.
While it could be a tough transition, it could just as easily re-energize him and lead to some big-time production after a down year in 2015.
Desmond is easily one of the best offensive shortstops in baseball when he is on his game, and there is a solid chance that he'll make the Nats regret letting him get away depending on how well he transitions to a new position.
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