SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Free agent Ian Desmond has agreed to a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers that when finalized will include a move to the outfield for the one-time All-Star shortstop.
The $8 million deal, first reported by Fox Sports, was subject to Desmond passing a physical, according to a baseball official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because the deal was still pending. The 30-year-old who has spent all seven of his major league seasons with the Washington Nationals.
Desmond will likely play left field for the AL West champion Rangers with Josh Hamilton expected to miss at least the first month of the season because of left knee issues. Desmond has started only one of his 927 career games in the outfield.
Texas will forfeit its first-round pick in the June amateur draft, No. 19 overall, because Desmond rejected a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals after last season.
The Nationals will get a compensatory pick after the first round once Desmond’s deal with another team is finalized. But Texas also have a compensatory pick in June since right-hander Yovani Gallardo signed with Baltimore on Thursday after turning down a qualifying offer after last season with the Rangers.
Along with the shift to the outfield, Desmond could give shortstop Elvis Andrus an occasional break, as well as second baseman Rougned Odor.
Desmond has a .264 career batting average with 110 home runs and 432 RBIs. He was an All-Star shortstop in 2012 and has won three Silver Slugger awards, but struggled for much of last season when he hit .233 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs and made an NL-high 27 errors.
The only major league game Desmond started in the outfield was in 2009, when he played right field for the Nationals and had three putouts in seven innings. He also played one-third of an inning in right field late in a game the following season. He has also started five games at second base, with his other 889 career starts coming as a shortstop.