Ian Desmond played the first seven years of his career with the Washington Nationals. He won three Silver Slugger awards as the league’s best-hitting shortstop. He was a rarity as a power-hitting shortstop, making three All-Star teams.
In 2012 he had his highest batting average at .292. He had three successive seasons with over 20 home runs. During that time his salary rose steadily. After 2014, the Nationals increased his pay from $6.5 million to $11 million in 2015.
Unfortunately, 2015 was a bad year for Desmond. His average dipped to .233 with 19 home runs and only 62 RBIs. He further reduced his value to the Nationals by committing 27 errors. At the end of the season, he became a free agent.
The Texas Rangers took a one-year attempt with Desmond but dropped his pay to $8 million. The other condition was that Desmond had to leave the shortstop position for the outfield, playing left field and center. 2016 started wonderfully for Desmond. He made the All Star Game carrying a .322 average with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs. In the second half of the season, he only hit 7 more home runs and his average dropped 37 points finishing at .285. He became a free agent again. He was a player with declining offensive skills and a one-year history as an outfielder who was 32 years old.
In 2017, the Colorado Rockies offered Ian Desmond (32) a shocking 5-year contract for $70 million. This happened despite Desmond’s production slipping over recent years and meant the Rockies were committing to Desmond through age 37. They had a great young shortstop in Trevor Story and 4 quality outfielders. They offered Desmond a long-term large contract hoping that he could resurrect his offense and learn a brand new position.
That did not work out. After three seasons, Desmond had dramatically underperformed for the size of his contract. The Rockies lessened the blow of this bad deal when Desmond opted out of the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to Covid warnings. You know it is a horrible contract when the team breathes a sigh of relief when the player doesn’t play.