What is taking the Washington Nationals so long to extend shortstop Ian Desmond‘s contract?
Desmond, one of the anchors of the Nationals’ infield, looks like he may be headed elsewhere at the end of the 2015 campaign. If the Nationals are smart, they will up the ante and make sure Desmond stays in a Nationals uniform now, and for the foreseeable future.
Desmond turned down a seven-year contract worth a reported $85 million last month, and the reason he gave at the time was he already felt financially secure enough not to take the “hometown discount” some free agents give their teams.
It’s not hard to argue he should be rewarded. At 19 homers and 70 runs batted in, Desmond is already on the way to his finest season in history. Desmond smacked 25 homers in 2012 and he added a longball Sunday night in his team’s nationally televised game.
It turned out to be the only run Washington scored as the Nationals fell to the Atlanta Braves. Washington is still 3.5 games ahead of the Braves in the National League East race, and the team looks like they could be the team to beat in that division this year.
If the Nationals are worried about attendance, that’s on the fans. The Nationals should draw better than the 32,035 fans a game that come out on average. They only fill three-fourths of Nationals Park, a place that is infinitely more fan-friendly than RFK Stadium, the Nationals’ former home.
Are the fans worried Desmond will bolt for greener pastures and leave the team without an infield anchor and star shortstop? If so, Washington management needs to step up and up its offer. Yes, you’re going to have to pay Desmond over $100 million to stay in Nationals red and white.
Troy Tulowitzki has a 10-year contract worth $157 million to play for the Colorado Rockies. Jose Reyes has a six-year deal worth $106 million. Hanley Ramirez has a deal lower than Desmond at six years and $70 million, but considering Ramirez is an injury risk, that could be a fairer deal for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Desmond has put up the bat, and the Nationals should put up the bucks.