In a move that has left almost the entire baseball commentariat scratching their heads, the Rockies today announced that they signed Ian Desmond to a five-year $70 million, a signing that will reportedly also cost them the 11th overall selection in the 2017 Draft. While I think that giving up this draft pick at the same time that you are wildly overpaying Desmond makes little sense any way you slice, the only way it makes even a modicum of sense to me is if the Rockies are concerned about Trevor Story‘s ability to come back from the torn thumb ligament that ended his 2016 season.
The 2016 Rockies had gaping holes at 1B and LF, at least until David Dahl was called up to fill the latter position, but Desmond isn’t a good enough hitter for this signing to make sense if they plan to play him regularly at either position. The Rockies could probably have signed Chris Carter to play first for one year and $8 million; and, while Carter’s game has it’s own big holes, he might well hit 50 home runs playing half his games in Coors Field.
There has been speculation that the Rockies intend to use Desmond as a jack-of-all-trades type player, in the manner of Ben Zobrist. While Desmond can play all three outfield positions and may well end up in right field with Carlos Gonzales moving to 1B, Desmond has played a total of only eight games in his professional career at an infield position other than shortstop, all of them at 2B, the last time in 2009, his MLB rookie year. It’s no guarantee that a shortstop with almost no experience at 2B can slide over to the new position without facing a steep learning curve, particularly when it comes to turning the double-play.
It would have made more sense to me to sign Carter, keep the draft pick and use the $60 million savings to try to improve their bullpen.