Last week, I discussed how there could be a cause for concern with the play of Ian Desmond. Judging by some of my Twitter DMs, this didn’t go over well. Well, now that Carlos Gonzalez is signed and the Colorado Rockies outfield is more crowded than it already was, the situation surrounding Desmond may have turned from not only a concern but into a dilemma.
If Gerardo Parra is healthy (which looks to be the case) and if CarGo shakes off the rust after missing most of spring, they should be the starting corner outfielders on opening day. This leads to Desmond getting moved back to first base (two starts since the announcement of CarGo).
The dilemma is that rookie Ryan McMahon has so far earned the right to start the season at first base. Even with Bud Black stating he has to prove himself in the final two weeks of spring, McMahon has played well, hitting 17-for-48 (.354) through games of March 13 and has not committed an error on defense.
As for Desmond, his performance this spring has been, for a lack of better words, pathetic. After Friday’s game, he is now hitting 2-for-28 (.071) with a double and 14 strikeouts in 10 appearances. That is not what the Rockies expect from a guy that they gave a five-year, $70 million contract and cost them the 11th pick in the 2017 draft.
I don’t want to make a habit of bashing players but those stats (spring training and small sample size, I get it) and last year’s injury-riddled season has put a sour taste in my mouth. The scary thing is that his last year’s numbers are comparable to what he has done throughout his career.
If Desmond doesn’t turn things around and McMahon continues to play well in the final two weeks, does Bud Black dare put $22 million (Desmond’s 2018 salary) on the bench to start the season?
Since the Rockies have a wealth of prospects (Raimel Tapia, David Dahl and Mike Tauchman) waiting to break into the lineup, Desmond could possibly be a trade candidate. Having the bulk of his contract already paid after this year ($38 million left), GM Jeff Bridich could be willing to eat a chunk of his salary if they find a trade partner for the 32-year-old Desmond. Going with a youth movement would be a huge benefit by freeing up money to throw at Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon in the offseason.
Again, I want Desmond to break out and prove me wrong. A return to his 2016 form where he hit .285/.335/.446 with 22 home runs and 86 RBI would go a long ways in helping the Rockies reach their ultimate goal. Unfortunately, his career numbers and recent play make it look like a long shot.
The Rockies faced this type of dilemma with CarGo’s struggles last year and everything worked out in the end. Hopefully this dilemma ends with the same results.