Desmond's transition from shortstop to center field with the Rangers went as well as could be expected, as he was adequate there but not great (minus-6 defensive runs saved). The Rockies, however, already have Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon and David Dahl in the outfield, so this signing appears to slot Desmond at first base. In a market saturated with first basemen who would seemingly be drooling to play at Coors Field -- Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, Mike Napoli, Chris Carter -- the Rockies instead spend $70 million and lose their first-round pick (11th overall) in the process.
So what's the thinking?
(A) GM Jeff Bridich clearly values versatility. So while Desmond might be the regular first baseman, he might also turn into the Rockies' version of Ben Zobrist, playing all over the field. It would also free the team up to potentially trade Blackmon if something comes up and potentially make an even bigger offseason splash.
(B) Desmond is durable, having averaged 156 games the past four seasons and playing at least 154 in six of his seven seasons. For a franchise built around the injury-prone Troy Tulowitzki and Gonzalez in recent seasons, this is an important factor.
(C) Maybe they believed they couldn't wait on a Trumbo or Encarnacion, or didn't want to go to the secondary tier of guys such as Adam Lind, James Loney, Brandon Moss or re-signing Mark Reynolds. Sometimes you just have to sign a guy if you have the chance.
My concern with Desmond is that while he turned a big May and June with the Rangers into an All-Star appearance -- he hit .351 with 11 home runs those two months -- he hit just .237/.283/.347 in the second half, more in line with his disappointing 2015 season with the Nationals. He hit .330 at home with the Rangers, but .241 on the road. He still struck out a lot and didn't walk much. His overall park-adjusted wRC+ of 106 made him a slightly above-average hitter, although that would put him in the bottom half of first basemen and only a small improvement over Reynolds' 99 mark.
With full seasons and possible improvement from Dahl and Trevor Story, the Rockies' lineup should be their best since their World Series team in 2007:
2B DJ LeMahieu
That's a fun lineup. The young rotation showed promise in 2016, with guys such as Tyler Anderson, Tyler Chatwood and Jon Gray putting up good Coors Field-adjusted numbers. The bullpen needs help or needs to pitch better. Manager Bud Black should provide a little more energy from the dugout than Walt Weiss. Are the Rockies contenders? Going from 75 wins to 90 won't be easy and Desmond isn't really much of an upgrade over Reynolds, but there's some intriguing talent here.