Rangers, Desmond complete 1-year deal

Rangers, Desmond complete 1-year deal

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The Rangers and free agent Ian Desmond completed a one-year, $8 million contract on Monday, a day after they came to an agreement on a deal.

Desmond passed his physical and was expected in Rangers camp on Monday.

The Rangers were concerned about a lack of power in the lower half of their lineup with Josh Hamilton expected to be sidelined for the first month of the season with inflammation in his left knee. Desmond, 30, is being added with the idea of him playing left field, even though he has been almost exclusively a shortstop his entire seven-year career.

General manager Jon Daniels said on Monday that the plan is for Desmond to play left field all season, even after Hamilton's return.

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The Rangers will forfeit the 19th overall pick in the 2016 Draft since the Nationals extended a qualifying offer to Desmond. But Texas gained the 30th pick when pitcher Yovani Gallardo signed with the Orioles.

News of the deal swept quickly through camp on Sunday, and Desmond's new teammates were thrilled by the potential addition to their lineup.

Rangers react to Desmond news

"He brings a certain kind of energy," pitcher Cole Hamels said. "He's got tremendous power. It's nice to have a nice right-handed bat in our lineup to balance out the lefties. He'll be an outstanding addition, and it'll be fun to see him when he gets here in a couple of days."

"It's an awesome feeling," pitcher Derek Holland said. "When the staff goes out and gets these guys, it shows how bad they want to win, and they want to do it right now. It's a great thing to be part of. Desmond will fit in perfect, and I'm sure he's happy to be here."

"Obviously, he's been an impact player for a while," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "Even though he's probably going to play a different position than he used to, we know he'll bring that middle-of-the-lineup production to our ballclub."

"Playing against him, he's definitely intense," designated hitter Prince Fielder said. "He's going to play hard. He's going to hit the ball hard. I know he's going to work hard at it. I'm just excited for him to get here and get it going."

Desmond has played in 927 Major League games, and he has played exclusively at shortstop, with the exception of five games at second base and two in the outfield. Desmond was an All-Star for the Nats in 2012 and won a Silver Slugger as the top hitting shortstop in the National League from 2012-14.

"Lot of energy," Hamilton said. "Another good fit for the clubhouse. It's going to be another guy who can play multiple positions. Another athlete to plug into the lineup. We're excited to see him here. He knows what he's doing. He'll fit in perfectly. You think back to '10 and '11, we had guys coming off the bench getting the job done. Having depth throughout lineup, pitcher never getting a break, is what we want."

Desmond has spent the past seven seasons with the Nationals, hitting .233 with 19 home runs and 62 RBIs in 2015. He had a .290 on-base percentage and a .384 slugging percentage. But over the past four seasons, Desmond has a .264 batting average and a .443 slugging percentage while averaging 22 home runs and 76 RBIs per year.

That's the kind of power the Rangers are hoping to get in the lower half of their order.

"I'm excited about it," catcher Chris Gimenez said. "We came up in the Minor Leagues together. He's a tremendous athlete. We'll welcome him with open arms. He'll be a tremendous addition to this team."

Zinkie on Desmond's value

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
After spending his first seven seasons in the big leagues with the Nats, the shortstop-eligible Desmond should get a slight boost by playing half his games at hitter-friendly Globe Life Park and adding outfield eligibility. The 30-year-old should reach the 20-homer mark if he continues to flash his trademark durability, but much of his fantasy value will hinge on his ability to curb a strikeout rate that has increased across the past two campaigns -- dragging down his batting average along the way.

This signing further cements the notion that Hamilton should open 2016 on mixed-league waivers and ends the sleeper status of powerful prospect Joey Gallo, who will likely begin the year in the Minors. The deal also curbs the enthusiasm for youngster Nomar Mazara, who appears ticketed to spend most of the campaign in Triple-A.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.