Would the Nationals welcome back unsigned shortstop Ian Desmond?

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Free agent shortstop Ian Desmond remains unsigned, which in theory could open the door for the Nationals to re-sign him given that they’re the one team able to do so without forfeiting a draft pick. However, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post “that ship has sailed.”

Wagner reports that Desmond and the Nationals have had zero negotiations this offseason and in fact haven’t talked contract since he turned down a $90 million offer in the spring of 2014. He also turned down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer two months ago.

Clearly the Nationals never intended to keep Desmond once that happened, which is why they traded for a long-term shortstop in Trea Turner and signed veteran middle infielders Daniel Murphy and Stephen Drew to go with in-house option Danny Espinosa. If anything the Nationals have too much middle infield depth.

And now Desmond, who’s coming off a career-worst season at age 30 and has seen his OPS decline every year since 2012, will be lucky to get even a fraction of what the Nationals offered him less than two years ago.

Ketel Marte shut down with back injury

Ketel Marte
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With just over a week left in the regular season, the Diamondbacks have elected to shut down infielder/outfielder Ketel Marte. Marte has been dealing with some lower back inflammation and stiffness over the last few days; on Friday, the team revealed that he was diagnosed with a stress reaction as well.

It doesn’t look as though the injury will compromise Marte’s 2020 campaign, but as Craig noted on Wednesday, his absence will likely have some effect on his NL MVP candidacy. The 25-year-old will wrap his first All-Star season with a .329/.389/.592 batting line, 32 home runs, a .981 OPS, and a staggering, career-best 7.1 fWAR through 628 plate appearances.

Marte told reporters Thursday that the back pain had been an issue “for the past two months,” though he didn’t comment on the severity of the injury. Despite his ability to play through the pain since July, the issue has clearly escalated in the last week or so. Although the loss of their most valuable contributor may have a negative impact on the D-backs’ chances of competing in the postseason, it’s undeniably a wise move to let Marte recuperate rather than pushing him to play for another week and running the risk of further injury.

Entering Friday’s series against the Padres — their last road series of the regular season — Arizona still has a sizable gap to close in order to earn one of two NL wild card spots. They’re five games out of postseason contention, with the Nationals, Brewers, Cubs, Mets, and Phillies ahead of them.