Though there were reportedly discussions about a long-term deal once again this winter as in previous years, this past January 17th the Washington Nationals and Ian Desmond announced that they agreed on a 2-year/$17.5M contract which bought out the final two seasons of arbitration-eligibility for the '04 Montreal Expos' 3rd pick.
Coming off a +5.0 fWAR campaign in his fourth major league season, in which Desmond put up a .280/.331/.453 line with 38 doubles, 20 HRs and 21 stolen bases in 158 games and 655 plate appearances, he was projected to be in line for a raise to around $6.9M if he went to arbitration after he earned $3.8M in 2013.
Instead he signed a deal that pays him $6.5M in 2014 and $11M in 2015 before he hits free agency, unless, of course, the two sides agree on another extension.
Veteran Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell wrote in a February 18th chat with the Post's readers that the rumors from the "grapevine" this offseason said the 28-year-old shortstop, "... turned down a contract extension from the Nats for more than Adam Jones' deal in Baltimore ($85.5M/7 yrs)," which, "...may even have passed the $90-M level."
"If you are talking about seven years," Boswell added, "that's not such an astronomical average salary for a Silver Slugger SS."
Desmond "declined to talk about" the report when nationals.com writer Bill Ladson asked the infielder about it the day after the Washington Post's Mr. Boswell wrote what he did.
Desmond told MLB.com's Mr. Ladson that he, "...was surprised when he saw the report in the Washington Post.":
"'I haven't really talked about contracts... I'll tell you that the Nationals and I had been in conversation prior to the two-year deal, but things didn't work out. I don't know how this got out. It's not something that came from my side. We don't operate like that.'"
The two-year deal he signed, as Desmond explained it, "... benefited my family and it didn't affect future infielders in the arbitration process."
So if 7-years/$90-ish million wasn't the right deal, what were Desmond and his representatives looking for in a long-term contract?
CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman, in reporting on Sunday night that his sources too told him Desmond turned down a multi-year offer that was, "...believed to be for about $90 million," and, "... thought to be for up to seven years," wrote that while the offer might sound good "on the surface" and it wasn't, "...known why Desmond didn't sign the deal," a good template for a contract might be the 8-year/$120M deal Elvis Andrus signed with the Texas Rangers last April, which, "... included a player opt-out clause."
Andrus, 25, signed the 8-year deal (which covers the 2015-22 seasons) a year after agreeing on a 3-year/$14.4M extension with the Rangers in February of the previous winter.
When he signed the three-year extension, Andrus was coming off a +4.0 fWAR season in 2012 in which he posted a .286/.349/.378 line with 31 doubles, nine triples, three home runs and 21 stolen bases in 158 games and 711 PAs in what was his fourth major league campaign.
Can Desmond and the Nationals eventually work out another extension? Should the Nats go to the 8-year/$120M+ range for the hard-hitting shortstop?