Washington Nationals Must Focus On Extending Ian Desmond

By Brian Skinnell
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

In two years, one of MLB’s brightest shortstops, Washington NationalsIan Desmond, will be up for free agency. If the Nationals are smart, they’ll take the time to work out a deal with Desmond to keep him from hitting the free agent market.

With Desmond being two years away from free agency, now is the right time for the Nationals to make the move. Many feel that players who are just a year away from free agency and still don’t have a deal are more likely to hit free agency. With that in mind, the time is now to come to an agreement with him.

Desmond is a shortstop on the rise in MLB, and the past two seasons have been promising for his career and future with the Nationals. He’s won the Silver Slugger award both years and was a Gold Glove finalist both years as well. In 2012, he also made his first appearance in the All-Star game.

Ian Desmond will be a much hotter commodity than the other player that the Nationals have to decide on a contract extension for, Jordan Zimmermann. The life span of a shortstop is longer than that of a pitcher’s and Desmond is one that they shouldn’t let go of. In two years, it’s not going out on that big of a limb to predict that he’ll be considered one of baseball’s best shortstops.

The price to keep Desmond will be fairly reasonable considering he’ll be just 29 in two years when he becomes a free agent. This past April, the Texas Rangers came to an agreement with Elvis Andrus on an eight-year extension worth $120 million. You can guess that Desmond’s deal will be around that price range.

If the Nationals opt to let Desmond play out his contract and look towards free agency, they won’t have very many options. Derek Jeter will be a free agent, but let’s be real here, he’ll be retired. They could look to either J.J. Hardy or Hanley Ramirez, but spending the money to hang on to Desmond would better suit them.

Desmond has been a staple of the Nationals’ infield and lineup, as evident by his career accolades. Since making his big league debut in 2009, Desmond has bat .273 and holds a .432 slugging percentage with 67 homers and 279 RBIs. In the field, he holds a 96 percent fielding percentage, and that number has gotten better each year.

The Nationals have filled the gaps in their rotation, bullpen and on the bench, and now it’s time to lock in one of their best players for years to come. Giving Desmond a contract extension before next season should be next up on Mike Rizzo’s to-do list.

Brian Skinnell is a freelance sports writer for RantSports.com and contributor at Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter and add him to your network on Google.

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