In a bit of a surprise, the Nationals are "actively seeking" young shortstops on the trade market in advance of the trade deadline, according to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal notes that the team is concerned about the future of their shortstop position because Ian Desmond rejected long-term extension offers over the winter, signaling that he may leave Washington when he becomes a free agent next season.
Reports indicate that Desmond rejected extension offers that were for six or seven years at anywhere between $80 and $90 million, with one source telling Rosenthal that a contract of seven years and $98M was in play at one point. Desmond instead opted to sign a two-year, $17.5 million deal to avoid arbitration, signaling that he wants to test the open market after the 2015 season. That may be the smart move, as Desmond is expected to be the best shortstop available that winter ahead of veterans Jimmy Rollins, Ben Zobrist, Marco Scutaro and Everth Cabrera.
Desmond has experienced a bit of a dropoff this year, hitting .240 with 15 HR and 53 RBI in 87 games. He has hit at least .280 with 20 homers in each of the last two seasons, and was named to the NL All-Star team in 2012.
With two aggressive sellers--the Cubs and Diamondbacks--seeming to have way too many shortstops in each system, the Nationals could look to swing a deadline deal to capitalize on each club's surplus. Arizona has been shopping Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings since last offseason and have Nick Ahmed in the majors now, so they're likely to deal one of their shortstops in the near future. With last weekend's addition of Addison Russell, the Cubs now have him, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara and major-leaguer Starlin Castro for shortstops, meaning they could be willing to move someone as well.