The Washington Nationals received a grade of "incomplete" or "N/A" for their work so far this winter in an article this weekend by former Nats' GM and current ESPN and MLB Network Radio analyst Jim Bowden, who graded each of the 30 MLB teams on what they've accomplished. The reason? In spite of the efforts by Mike Rizzo and Co. last week at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, CA, the Nationals haven't yet found the young, controllable infielder they are after this winter and haven't yet extended any of their free-agents-to-be like Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann.
The Nationals, as Bowden notes, remain open to the possibility that they might have to deal one or more of the five key players who are currently in their last year of team control.
The former major league general manager reports that there has been "a lot of dialogue of a possible blockbuster," trade between Washington and Seattle, as rumored last week, "... but the Mariners' reluctance to include Taijuan Walker has made it difficult."
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal too reported last week on rumored discussions between the Nationals and Mariners which centered around 25-year-old infielder Brad Miller but had, "... yet to gain traction."
Desmond understands the chatter, he told reporters at NatFest on Saturday at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C., and he admitted that he does hear the rumors.
"I have," the 29-year-old Nationals' infielder said. "It's part of the business. The Nationals didn't get here by sitting still. Mike [Rizzo] has done a great job since Day 1. He's going to do what's necessary and if me being moved is part of that, then so be it. But as of right now I'm here until 2015 and I'm doing everything I can to work hard and be ready and prepared for 2015."
A reporter asked the Nats' Silver Slugger-winning shortstop if he wanted to remain in the nation's capital with the only franchise he's known as a professional, but Desmond said he wasn't thinking too far ahead.
"Right now I'm basically just getting myself ready to have a good 2015," he said.
"I'm looking foward to it, I'm anxious to get back out there and play. The season didn't end the way we wanted it to. I think it kind of left a bitter taste in a lot of our mouths. I'm just excited to get back out there and play baseball."
The veteran of six major league seasons put up a .255/.313/.430 line with 26 doubles and 24 HRs in 154 games and 648 plate appearances in a +4.1 fWAR regular season campaign in 2014, then went 3 for 18 during the Nats' 3-1 NLDS loss to the San Francisco Giants in the second postseason run of his career. He didn't, however, take any solace in the fact that the Nationals lost to the eventual World Series champs.
"Doesn't really matter to me," Desmond said. "I still feel like we could have been champions. They have a good team, they're experienced. I feel like we were better than them, we didn't play up to our standards and we were sitting on the couch watching."
Desmond, who was drafted by the Montreal Expos in 2004 and developed by the organization that eventually turned into the Nationals, was asked if he wanted a chance to win it all with the team and teammates he's grown up with in baseball?
"In baseball, it doesn't really matter what you think or deserve," he said.
"This is a business. We understand where we're at as an organization. We've got all these good players. Like I said, we're running out of time. We've kind of all accepted it and we'll see what happens moving forward."
Looking back though, Desmond said he wasn't particularly satisfied with his 2014 campaign which saw him strike out more than he ever has before (183 Ks, 28.2 K%) and saw his average drop from .292 in 2012 and .280 in 2013 to .255 while his OBP went from .335 in 2012 and .331 in 2013 to .313.
"I think last year I did some good things," Desmond explained. "I'm pretty unsatisfied with a lot of other things.
"But we made it to the postseason, we won the division. Individually, I got the 'Heart and Hustle' award, was a Roberto Clemente nominee, I won my third straight Silver Slugger. A lot of good things happened in a year that I thought was a little down year for myself."
"Sometimes it starts spinning out of control and you can't really stop it," he continued. "That's the way [it was] for me at the plate a lot last year where I just couldn't figure out what I wanted to do. Just kind of scuffled. Like I said, you scuffle all year and still win a Silver Slugger and play 150-something games and drive in 90 runs. I was hitting 9th a couple of years ago in the National League. I think those are some pretty easy things to swallow considering."
"A lot of people were ready for me to be out of here five years ago when I wasn't able to hit. Now I've won three straight Silver Sluggers and I'm excited about that."
Would he consider continuing negotiations into the season if nothing is agreed upon this winter and he doesn't get traded?
"Haven't really got that far yet," Desmond said. "We'll see where we're at."