When reports started surfacing late last week that the Rangers were inquiring about former All-Star Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, the public reaction was one of confusion and of "WTF are they thinking?"
Seriously, go back and look on the Twittersphere.
I was in that same camp, and when word broke over the weekend the Rangers and Desmond had pulled the trigger, that belief was amped up.
"So, they're signing a shortstop to play left field who's bat has declined in each of the last three seasons? Noooo!!!"
Then, I saw the contract.
Now, it's hard to say anything but "bravo!" for the Rangers and their risk they're taking by signing Desmond, a guy who had a qualifying offer attached to him meaning the Rangers will lose their 19th pick in the upcoming draft.
Desmond is right-handed. The Rangers needed more of that. He has power, as evidenced by 88 homers over the last four years (22 per year). He also has speed, as evidenced by his similar average of stolen bases per year over the last five seasons. In short, he's a weapon.
Also in short? He was awful last season with a .233/.290/.384 triple slash with just 13 stolen bases to go with his 19 homers. In fact, his first half was historically bad before he turned things around a bit to get his numbers up to those by season's end.
But again, back to that contract — one year and $8 million. That's a Nelson Cruz-ish deal the Orioles got him for back in 2014. With the severe uncertainty Josh Hamilton provides the Rangers in left field and the mess of guys behind him, the Desmond signing could pay huge dividends from a guy who turned down a $100 million contract two years ago to further test the market. Oops.
If it doesn't pay those dividends, you lost one year and $8 million and you have guys like Justin Ruggiano and even super prospect Nomar Mazara waiting in the wings. The main theme here: the Rangers got no worse in left field by getting Desmond. If anything, they got a lot better.