Ian Desmond's long and drawn-out free agency saga is finally over, as the former Nationals shortstop has signed a one-year deal to join the Texas Rangers.
The news was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who notes the Rangers will forfeit the 19th overall pick as part of MLB's qualifying offer system. Desmond rejected a $15.8 million offer from the Nats after the World Series to test free agency. Desmond's new deal is reportedly worth $8 million, or about half of the QO he turned down.
This also comes after Desmond turned down multiple extension offers from the Nationals in recent years. He at one point eyed this offseason as an opportunity to earn a long-term deal of over $100 million.
The Rangers' interest in Desmond heated up this weekend as they reached out to see if he would play left field. They have a void in their outfield with Josh Hamilton set to begin the season on the disabled list. Desmond could spend much of the 2016 season in the outfield, while also pitching in at infield positions.
Desmond, 30, leaves the Nationals after seven seasons. He was the lone holdover from their Montreal Expos days, having been taken by Montreal in the third round of the 2004 draft. There are now no players on the Nationals' roster with ties to the Expos.
Desmond made the All-Star team for the Nationals in 2012 and won three NL Silver Slugger awards from 2012-14. He hit .233/.290/.384 with 19 homers and 62 RBI in 2015.
Desmond's numbers dipped in 2015, which contributed to his trouble finding a new home. But his free agency could long be remembered for the negative effect the draft pick compensation system had on him.
MLB's qualifying offer system forces teams to surrender a first round pick in order to sign a player who rejects the offer, which is the average of the top 125 salaries from the previous season. Top 10 picks are protected through the system, but it has proven to be prohibitive for many free agents, Desmond being the most extreme case.
The Nationals kept in contact with Desmond on and off throughout the winter, but never showed serious interest in retaining him. Their intentions were signaled one year ago when they traded for top prospect Trea Turner. This winter they signed second baseman Daniel Murphy to shore up their middle infield and even gave him Desmond's No. 20 jersey number.
Desmond becomes the latest Nationals player to leave Washington after being a mainstay for the franchise for years. Jordan Zimmermann, Denard Span, Doug Fister and Craig Stammen all departed through free agency. And reliever Drew Storen was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in January.
The Nationals received a compensation pick when Zimmermann signed with the Detroit Tigers and they will get another selection for Desmond signing with the Rangers.