Earlier today the fantasy baseball world went into a mini frenzy when news broke that Ian Desmond signed a 1-year $8 million deal. While it is nice from a fantasy perspective to know Desmond is finally part of an MLB roster, there were a few things that were surprising about this signing.
This was significantly less money than Desmond was expecting to sign for. He turned down nearly a $16 million offer from the Nationals this off season in the hopes to land a big deal. Agent Scott Boras is widely known for landing his players lucrative deals and this one fell far short of what Desmond was expecting.
It was also quite a surprise to find that the Rangers were the team to sign Desmond. Teams like Tampa Bay and Colorado were rumored to be in talks with the free agent shortstop. When it was reported that the Rangers landed Desmond, the question of playing time quickly arose. The Rangers have Andrus, how does Desmond fit into the picture? That question was also answered somewhat quickly: sources reported that Desmond would take over left field responsibilities for the Rangers.
How does this affect Desmond's (and others) fantasy production? Desmond is coming off of a terrible year. I'm sure this isn't at all how he wanted to enter his free-agency off season, and I'm certain after today's signing he's second guessing the decision he made a few months ago. That said, he now has a home and it's time to think about what the 2016 season will look like for Desmond.
The biggest concern I have is playing time. The Rangers wouldn't have signed Desmond if they didn't think he would help their team, however they still have veteran Josh Hamilton who was expected to play left field as well as young stud Joey Gallo to consider as potential LF options. Hamilton is in the later stages of his career and isn't healthy. We already didn't know what to expect from him due to reoccurring knee issues, but the Desmond signing should significantly cut into his at bats. That said, he will play some and that will in turn cut into Desmond's at bats. To what extent is yet to be seen.
Then there's Joey Gallo. Gallo played in 36 games in 2015 and flashed some nice power at times. Talks were that he might break onto the scene in 2016, however today's signing seems to have put a huge damper on that. If the Rangers thought he was ready to take over in left field, I'm reasonably certain they wouldn't have signed Desmond. To me, Gallo was affected most by this deal and isn't even draft-able in most formats anymore. He will get some playing time, however I'm guessing dramatically reduced.
So where does that leave Desmond? I haven't changed my projections for him all that much. I figure he will get most of the time in left field, but also will have the potential to play occasionally around the diamond if others need a day off. I reduced my overall AB projections a hair which will in turn lower the counting stats I projected before this deal, but overall the numbers look close to the same.
Desmond has been healthy most of his career, and the only reason I would lower his projected AB's furthr is if he touches Beltre's head. My projections for Desmond for 2016 now look like this: