The Nats said goodbye last week officially to their most tenured player in Ian Desmond when he turned down his Qualified Offer to become a Free Agent. Desi was here or there depending how you look at it when he signed with the Montreal Expos out of High School in the 3rd round of the 2004 draft. The Nats for lack of a better word had ‘garbage’ in the Farm System when the Nats were moved to Washington from Montreal. Desmond was perhaps the Top Prospect and he was just an A ball player as a Sand Gnat in 2005 in Savannah Georgia before the Nats had transitioned the Minor League homes.
Desmond: "I want to be part of something bigger than myself. I want to win a World Series." https://t.co/NpSvGOHurH pic.twitter.com/BXJRCRaIbi
— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) November 12, 2015
Desi was promoted quickly and in 2006 went from High-A Potomac to AA Harrisburg and Desi struggled so much that GM Jim Bowden had Desi move back to High-A Potomac for the entire 2007 season. Desi never put up impressive Minor League stats until 2009 and finished his Minor League career with a pedestrian .259 BA. Desi earned a September call-up with the Nats and never looked back. Desi made the Opening Day line-up in 2010 where Rizzo didn’t consider a Super Two and Desi’s service clock ticked away, but Desi’s situation was different as that 2010 team could allow for Desi to learn on a MLB roster more by circumstance then by plan as this team wasn’t a contender. Desi struggled for much of 2010 and 2011 in a way that in a different place and time many teams would have sent him back to the Minors for a tune-up or maybe for good as you see often and it happened with former Top Prospect Chris Marrero. The Nats got 4 good years from Ian Desmond, and he was perhaps the most debated player in Nats history due to his struggles and then his breakout 2012 season where Desi showed what he could be.
Jordan Zimmermann was another home grown player drafted out of College in the 2nd round of 2007 as draft compensation when Alfonso Soriano signed with the Cubs. Jordan Zimmermann’s 6 years went by quickly and mostly due to the Tommy John surgery kept him out and shutdown for a good part of his career.
After the 2016 season, the Nats will have a similar situation with Stephen Strasburg as they did with Jordan Zimmermann as Stras is the most infamous member of the Tommy John survivor fraternity since Tommy John himself.
This coming up season will see Strasburg and Storen and Ramos all in their last seasons of team control.
Mike Rizzo has not had a history of long-term player retention beyond Ryan Zimmerman who signed an 11 year deal back in the 2009 off-season. It made sense for continuity on a team that was a revolving door at the time, and Ryan had just come off of a 2008 season where he sustained his 1st lengthy DL stint and wisely took the deal. The deal may never pay off, but it was an important step to show the fanbase at the time that the Nats were thinking long-term.
The issue is that many other GMs tie up key players long-term early and often. Brian Sabean yesterday just did that with Brandon Crawford and Sabean did it with Madison Bumgarner when he was only a 2nd year player. There is risk from both sides in these types of deals, but the alternative is watching key players walk and, the draft compensation is not great when a superstar leaves for Free Agency.
Why do we bring this up? A kid named Bryce Harper is 3 years away from Free Agency as of right now and Anthony Rendon is 4 years away. Those years go by quickly. This is where the MASN RSN money is crucial for the future cashflow of this team. Harper and Rendon need to be tied up long-term soon. I’m sure Rizzo would give Harp a Stanton type deal which was 13 years for $325 million. Bryce will need more than that and the number is probably closer to 15 years for $450 million and you have to believe Bora$ will want to break the bank and get him to half a BILLION.
Sports Illustrated called Bryce Harper “Baseball’s Chosen One” when he was 16 years old. Will he be the Nats prophet to deliver this team from bondage into the Promised Land where the World Series trophy is handed to the winning team? Bryce has said his goal is to win a World Series for Washington, DC.
Bryce Harper says his ultimate goal is to put that World Series ring on his finger and bring title to fans of DC #Nationals
— Byron Kerr (@masnKerr) November 13, 2012
That quote above from Bryce was from 2012. Just as the departing Ian Desmond said,
“I want to be part of something bigger than myself. I want to win a World Series.”