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Nationals trade rumors: Ian Desmond may be available on trade market

The shortstop could see himself traded during the worst season of his career.

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Nationals may operate as both buyers and sellers in July, meaning that they could potentially trade shortstop Ian Desmond, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Desmond is a free agent after the winter and is unlikely to return to Washington, so the team may look to get some value for him as well as add financial flexibility in a creative deadline deal.

As Rosenthal notes, the Nats have the ability to use Danny Espinosa at short, Anthony Rendon at second and Yunel Escobar at third, making Desmond expendable. Desmond, who has repeatedly turned down high-paying extensions from the Nationals, has struggled to a .220/.265/.337 line at the plate this season while committing a league-worst 16 errors in what is shaping up to be the worst season of his seven-year career. Because of those struggles, his value on the trade market may be lower than ever, meaning that the Nats could hold onto him in order to issue a qualifying offer after the season and potentially position themselves to acquire a draft pick if he signs elsewhere.

Nationals' ownership has expressed a desire to not stretch the team's payroll during the season, according to Rosenthal, meaning that the team could trade Desmond primarily to free up the $3.5 million of his salary that will be owed in the season's final two months. Washington has known to be in on notable trade candidates Aroldis Chapman (Reds), Ben Zobrist (Athletics) and Tyler Clippard (Nationals), so they may look to free up some salary space to add one of those players.

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