30-year-old Nationals shortstop has turned down a ton of money, and now it’s coming back to haunt him

ian desmondAndy Lyons/Getty

Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond may be regretting some of his contractual choices during what has been a rough free agency for the 30-year-old.

Desmond is still lingering on the free agent market, and it appears his options are getting slim.

Desmond had a disappointing 2015 that saw him hit .233 with 19 home runs, 62 RBIs, and just a .290 OBP — some of his worst numbers in his career. Furthermore, he struck out more frequently and saw his WAR drop from 3.8 in 2014 to 2.0.

Nonetheless, Desmond, who had several productive seasons with the Nationals, opted to turn down the one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer the Nationals extended to him. After making $11 million last season, Desmond thought he could get more as a free agent on the market.

In 2013, Desmond also turned down a seven-year, $107 million extension from the Nationals. It was an interesting gamble for Desmond, and one he made perhaps thinking he could get other mega-offers from other teams when he hit free agency.

Now, of course, that gamble doesn’t look so good.

His decision to turn down the qualifying offer this offseason has come back to hurt him in other ways. By extending the QO to Desmond, the Nationals also guaranteed they would receive compensation if Desmond signed with another team. Per MLB rules, a team that signs a free agent who was offered the QO must give up a top-10 protected draft pick. According to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo, the Tampa Bay Rays are interested in signing Desmond, but don’t want to give up their No. 13 pick for him.

It’s another slap in the face for Desmond, who has not seen teams offer up the money he was hoping to get, and is now seeing teams balk at giving up a valuable pick for his services.

As Washington Post’s Neil Greenberg calculated, projections for Desmond’s future production suggest he’ll continue to decline and that he may only be worth $20 million on a two-year deal or about $25 million on a three-year deal.

Given that Desmond is only 30, some team could bank on a bounce-back year and decide to pay Desmond the rate he’s looking for. With the way things are going, however, it seems Desmond is going to have to make some concessions while likely regretting turning down two nice paydays.

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