In 2019, the Nationals became the World Series champions. Several years before, a young shortstop named Ian Desmond played a pivotal role in getting the team to the 2012 and 2014 playoffs. Desmond, now playing for the Colorado Rockies, has spent 11 years in MLB and he’s always believed in himself. In 2015, the eager Silver Slugger winner took a gamble that didn’t pay off — and it cost him millions.
Ian Desmond’s MLB career
Born in 1985, Desmond was a third-round draft pick by the Montreal Expos in the 2004 MLB Draft. The 19-year old began playing for A-teams. In 2009, he moved up to the majors for the Nationals. He started strong, hitting a home run in his first MLB game. Desmond became the second player in baseball history to have six hits and four RBIs in his first two games.
The starting shortstop played for seven years with the Nationals from 2009 to 2015. He was named twice to the MLB All-Star team and won the Silver Slugger Award three times. In 2012, at the height of his career, Desmond had a .292 batting average, hitting a record 25 home runs. Over the next few years, his production went down, and by the time he left the Nationals in 2015, he had a .233 batting average.
Desmond moved to the Texas Rangers in 2016, where he left his favored shortstop position to play in the outfield. After one dismal season, reports NBC Sports, he was traded to the Colorado Rockies, where he still plays in the outfield today on a 5-year contract.
To date, Desmond has played in a career 1,478 games. He has recorded 724 runs, 1,432 hits, 711 RBIs, and 181 home runs.
Why Desmond turned down millions
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In 2008, the Nationals bought Desmond’s first-year contract for a mere $0.4 million. In 2013, the Silver Slugger avoided arbitration and inked a deal with the Nationals worth $3.8 million. Desmond signed a two-year, $17.5 million extension with them for the 2014-15 season. A huge part of the playoff teams for the Nationals, the franchise wanted to hold onto the “power-hitting shortstop.”
Before the start of the 2015 season, reports Complex, they offered Desmond a huge 7-year, $107 million extension offer, and he declined the deal. It is believed that he had faith in his abilities and thought he could get more money from another team as a free agent.
Desmond bet on himself, refusing a deal that would have made him the second-highest-paid shortstop in the league. The numbers didn’t add up, and this turned out to be the biggest mistake of his career. Desmond remained a free agent through the 2016 season, signing an insanely low one-year $8 million contract with the Texas Rangers.
They moved him to the outfield, and according to Fox Sports, “A big-hitting shortstop basically becomes a mediocre-hitting left fielder.” At the end of 2016, the Rangers offered him a $17.2 million qualifying offer, which Desmond rejected. He eventually signed a five-year, $70 million contract with the Colorado Rockies, where he will play until 2022.
How Ian Desmond’s plan almost backfired
Desmond’s decision to turn down the Nationals million-dollar offer was shocking to fans and industry experts, considering he was having the worst season of his career. Desmond’s on-base percentage had dropped to .290, and his .233 batting average was not enticing other teams to make an offer.
He was able to secure the one-year deal from the Rangers and then parlay that into his current contract with the Rockies. Desmond bounced back, but in the end, rejecting the Nationals offer cost him close to $29 million. He missed out on millions by betting on himself and turning down that massive contract, as Sports Illustrated details.