Rockies Sign Ian Desmond, Add Bottleneck in Outfield: Fantasy Fallout

The Rockies surprised everyone by signing Ian Desmond to a big contract on Wednesday. With the impact Coors Field has, what can we expect from him in 2017?

Wow. Who says the baseball offseason is boring?

The Colorado Rockies were labeled as sellers last season, as Charlie Blackmon and Carlos Gonzalez were subjects of multiple trade rumors. That couldn’t be any further from the truth after what happened Wednesday afternoon.

The team announced that they agreed with Ian Desmond to a five-year/$70 million deal. With the experience he has at both shortstop and outfield, he is a valuable piece to the Rockies puzzle. However, with the current group of infielders, he may not see much playing time there. With that, what is his 2017 fantasy outlook?

Desmond had a down year in 2015 with the Washington Nationals. He hit 19 home runs, 62 RBI and .233 in 156 games. He then signed a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers. Desmond bounced back, which led to his current deal with the Rockies.

Desmond played in another 156 games, hitting 22 home runs, 86 RBI and .285. His on-base percentage went up 45 points, .290 to .335, mostly because of the 42 more hits and 27 fewer strikeouts.

Some would argue that Desmond had better lineup protection with the Rangers than with the Nationals.

In 2015, Desmond was batting behind Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. In 2016, he hit between Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Adrian Beltre and Prince Fielder (when he was healthy). Comparing the two lineups, I like the Rangers one better. There was more consistency top-to-bottom.

As of now, the Rockies have Blackmond, Gonzalez, David Dahl and Gerardo Parra in the outfield. Like I mentioned, the Rockies were looking to trade Blackmon or CarGo, and they still could, but this is a lot of outfield depth.

In the infield, Trevor Story won the starting shortstop job, DJ LaMahieu is at second base and star Nolan Arenado locked up third base. There isn’t much room for Desmond to play. Unfortunately, the Rockies don’t play in the American League or Desmond could slot in the DH spot.

However, there is one position that I didn’t mention that Desmond is expected to play.

Desmond has never played a major league inning at first base. If the Rockies were looking for a first baseman, why not use that money for Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, Mike Napoli or Chris Carter? Imagine Carter hitting in Coors. He could hit 50, and that might be underestimating by a few.

For Desmond, he could see another increase in his power numbers. He hit a career-high 25 homers in 2012 and 24 in 2014. With the impact Coors Field has, third in home runs according to ESPN Park Factors, Desmond could hit close to 30 home runs.

Entering 2017, Desmond will have outfield eligibility only. After 10 games, he will gain first base eligibility in ESPN leagues. That may be different in your leagues, so check the settings. As a first baseman, he ranks outside my top-15. As an outfielder though, he’s a top-30 option.