All of the new money in baseball will not simply be redirected to free agents. The Nationals are a classic example of a team that needs to take care of its own — specifically, right-hander Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond. Both players are candidates for contract extensions this offseason — and rather large contract extensions at that, given that each is only two years away from free agency. Zimmermann, 27, is ninth in the majors in ERA and 13th in ERA-plus over the past three seasons. Desmond, 28, has produced 10.0 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) the past two seasons, the most of any major league shortstop, according to Fangraphs.com, and 3.2 ahead of Elvis Andrus, the next-closest player at the position. Ah, Andrus. He is three years younger than Desmond and a better defender, but a significantly lesser hitter. His eight-year, $120 million contract extension begins in 2015, and includes a provision that enables him to opt out after ’18 or ’19. Is Desmond worth that? Maybe not, because of the age difference. But how would you compare him to Jose Reyes, who signed the last big free-agent deal by a shortstop, $106 million over six years? Pretty favorably, right? Desmond is far more durable than Reyes, having averaged 149 games in his four full seasons. He has won back-to-back Silver Slugger Awards and was a Gold Glove finalist last season. (Some advanced defensive metrics rate him average defensively; others put him above-average). He is a leader and homegrown talent, certainly not the kind of player the Nationals want to lose.
Keeping stars will cost Nats
Fox Sports | Nov 18