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Washington Nationals roster review: Ian Desmond

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Washington Nationals roster review: Ian Desmond

Age on Opening Day 2016: 30

How acquired: 3rd round pick, 2004 draft (Expos)

MLB service time: 5 years, 27 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $11 million

Contract status: Free agent

2015 stats: 156 G, 641 PA, 69 R, 136 H, 27 2B, 2 3B, 19 HR, 62 RBI, 13 SB, 45 BB, 187 SO, .233 AVG, .290 OBP, .384 SLG, .674 OPS, 27 E, -3.7 UZR, 1.7 WAR

Quotable: "When I got drafted by the Expos, they didn’t know where the team would be. But they couldn’t have found a better home. I’m extremely proud to say that I was a Washington National.”

2015 analysis: Ian Desmond took a calculated risk in passing up a contract extension and betting on himself in the 2015 season. His hope was a fourth straight year of Silver Slugger numbers before entering free agency as one of the biggest names on the market, a rare breed of shortstop these days who would command upwards of $150 million from the richest teams in baseball.

That didn't exactly go as planned, as Desmond played some of his worst ball in years for much of the 2015 season, both on offense and defense. Desmond had a .599 OPS as late as July 22 and was hitting just .214 on Aug. 4. He also committed eight errors in his first 12 games. If Matt Williams had benched him at any point through the first four months, few would have been shocked. He was that bad and at one point appeared to have lost himself a ton of money in free agency.

But Desmond did rebound, perhaps not completely, but he did. After batting .211/.255/.334 with seven homers in the first half, he hit .262/.331/.446 with 12 home runs after the All-Star break. In August he hit .314 with a .914 OPS and six homers. It was enough to get him up to 19 home runs, which ranked third among shortstops. Desmond will not command the money he would have if he was a free agent last winter, but the seven-year veteran should still be a highly sought after player this offseason given all the other attributes he brings to the table.

2016 outlook: The chances of Desmond returning to Washington, the only MLB home he has ever known, are very slim. Judging by his comments both leading into the 2015 season and throughout it, Desmond has clearly prepared himself for the possibility of not returning as a National. There are several reasons why that is probably for the best not only for the Nats, but perhaps Desmond as well.

For one, the Nationals have depth in their infield, most notably with the emergence of top prospect Trea Turner. Signing Desmond to a long-term deal would be a risk for the franchise and one they probably can't take given the contracts of Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman. If Desmond's deal didn't work out, the Nats would have serious payroll issues.

And for Desmond, it is still good timing to find a new home, even with his drop in numbers. He will enter free agency as the most accomplished player at his position. If a team is on the market for a shortstop, especially if it's a young team who could use some veteran leadership, Desmond could be a very attractive option.

The one question long-term that could perhaps come into play in negotiations this winter is where Desmond fits defensively. With his penchant for errors - he's finished in the top three for most at his position in three straight years - will teams want to sign him to play third base? At shortstop several of his numbers look unique, but at third his low OBP and high strikeout-rate might become more obvious.

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Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm