The Washington Nationals made qualifying offers to both Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann last week, but no one really expected either of the Nats' homegrown stars to accept the 1-year/$15.8M deals considering what they're likely to get through free agency. They both reportedly rejected the offers this afternoon.
Ian Desmond is rejecting the qualifying offer, as expected.— James Wagner (@JamesWagnerWP) November 13, 2015
Both players thanked the organization that drafted and developed them and the fan base that cheered for them throughout their careers once the regular season ended, but the Nationals extended qualifying offers to both to guarantee they would receive compensatory draft picks if they leave.
Desmond talked in an MLB Network Radio interview this week about getting the opportunity to decide where he'll be next season.
What seems likely to be Desmond's last season in the nation's capital, didn't go exactly as planned, but after the 29-year-old shortstop struggled through a .211/.255/.334 first-half, in which he hit 17 doubles and seven home runs in 84 games and 323 plate appearances, he bounced back with a .262/.331/.446 line, 10 doubles and 12 home runs in 72 games and 260 PAs in the second half.
He told MLB Network Radio's hosts that it was a struggle, but he's excited about the opportunity ahead of him.
"It's extremely exciting," Desmond said. "It's another notch in the belt. I made every single stop throughout the minor leagues from rookie ball to the major leagues, made it to arbitration, and then obviously now I'm at free agency and it's just another experience that I'll be able to not only help whatever team I'm on and some young players, but my children."
Asked if he had a preference for where he'll play and how involved he would be in the process, Desmond said he'll trust his agent as he has throughout his career.
"I just told him, 'Hey look. 'Find me my best home,'" Desmond explained.
"And I believe that he's going to do that. As far as preference goes, I want to be part of something bigger than myself. I want to win a World Series and I want to be able to make an impact on the team that I'm on and also I want to learn from the players that I'm around. So, I think there [are] numerous factors that go into it, there's a couple, but ultimately I think it's going to come down to who the best opportunity to win a World Series is with."
Zimmermann finished (13-10) in 2015, putting a 3.66 ERA, a 3.75 FIP, 39 walks (1.74 BB/9) and 164 Ks (7.32 K/9) in 201 ⅔ innings pitched, over which he was worth 3.0 fWAR. He has reportedly already received interest from the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs:
Any predictions for where either of the two will end up signing? The Nationals are definitely going to miss both of them, but with the likes of Joe Ross in the rotation and shortstop Trea Turner on his way up to play for the Nats at some point in the near future, they believe they appear to have young, potential replacements.