The qualifying offers the Nationals extended to right-hander Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond last Friday expire at 5 p.m. today. Both players are expected to reject the one-year, $15.8 million deal and enter the free agent market for the first time in their careers.
Reports from the general managers meetings had the Cubs beginning preliminary discussions with Zimmermann’s camp. The Giants, Red Sox and Astros are a few of the other teams reportedly pursuing the 29-year-old.
The Mets, Padres and White Sox seem interested in obtaining Desmond’s services. The 30-year-old struggled mightily in the first half of the season, but rebounded over the final 72 games, smacking 12 homers with 38 RBIs.
No player had accepted a qualifying offer until this year when Astros outfielder Colby Rasmus agreed to stay in Houston, as was first reported yesterday by FOXSports.com. The move appears to be a wise one for Rasmus, who likely would have been overlooked with outfielders Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, Alex Gordon and Jason Heyward hitting the market.
Desmond won’t be the only star shortstop to leave a National League East team this offseason. Less than 24 hours after being honored as the 2015 Wilson Defensive Player of the Year, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons was dealt to the Angels. Atlanta received veteran shortstop Erick Aybar and top pitching prospects Chris Ellis and Sean Newcomb in return, with catching prospect Jose Briceno also heading to the Angels.
The Braves are coming off a 97-loss season and are in the middle of overhauling the roster. However, Simmons is only 26 and was under contract with the Braves through the 2020 season.
Former Nationals manager Matt Williams was officially introduced as the Diamondbacks’ third base coach on Thursday. He returns to Arizona, where he played six years and then held various positions in the organization after retirement, including coaching third from 2011-2013.
“I think there’s a very bright future here,” Williams said to reporters. “I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
According to MLB.com, Williams passed on questions regarding whether his dismissal in Washington was justified.
“I think that’s probably a discussion for another day,” Williams said to reporters. “Today is about the Diamondbacks. It’s about me being a part of this and I’m extremely happy about that. That discussion, for me, no offense, I don’t know if it’s appropriate for right now. I just think that today is about the new guys coming on board and the direction of this organization moving forward.
“I’m in this game because I love it,” Williams said. “It is my passion, to say the least. Once the opportunity arose and (Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale) got in touch with me, I was eager and willing to come aboard and help as much as I can.”