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Yankees 2017 Potential Free Agent Target: Ian Desmond

Should the Yankees sign this shortstop-turned-outfielder?

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are about a month into the offseason, and so far they haven’t made any real upgrades. They did trade Brian McCann to the Astros for a pair of pitching prospects, but those pitchers aren’t going to help the team in 2017. Brian Cashman also put together a deal with the Mariners to send James Pazos to Seattle for yet another pitching prospect who has yet to reach Double-A.

Pitching prospects are great, but the Yankees have several other needs to address. Namely, they need a designated hitter, starting pitchers, and could use a right fielder. This is a weak free agent class, but Ian Desmond is one of the better hitters available. Could he be a good fit for the Yankees?

2016 Statistics: 156 G, 677 PA, .285/.335/.446, 22 HR, 86 RBI, 106 wRC+, 3.3 fWAR

Age on Opening Day 2017: 31

Position: SS/OF

Desmond was drafted by the Montreal Expos back in 2004 and made his way through the system as a shortstop. He made his major league debut in 2009 with the Washington Nationals and stayed there until he hit free agency last year. It was a long offseason for Desmond, who didn’t find a new home until the end of February when the Rangers signed him to a one-year deal worth $8 million. The Rangers decided to turn Desmond into an outfielder despite the fact that he had almost no previous experience there.

The Yankees aren’t in need of a shortstop, since it doesn’t appear that Didi Gregorius is going anywhere soon, barring any crazy trades. However, the Yankees could use Desmond in a few other roles. It is unclear whether the Yankees will roll the dice with Aaron Judge as the starting right fielder next year or not. Desmond would come in handy if Judge is sent back to Triple-A or is relegated to a bench role.

After Aaron Hicks’ struggles last year, it would make a lot of sense to replace Hicks with Desmond. He has both center and left field experience now, so it figures that he would be fine in right field (presumably better than Carlos Beltran, anyway). The Yankees have had some issues facing left-handed pitchers, and Desmond could help in that regard. In fact, he has hit .262/.311/.419 against righties and .281/.332/.455 against lefties throughout his career. He also has at least 20 stolen bases during five of the last six years, and he would be able to backup shortstop (and maybe even second base) if necessary.

Unfortunately, signing Desmond would cost the Yankees a draft pick since he rejected the Rangers’ qualifying offer (The new collective bargaining agreement regarding this will not go into effect until the 2017-2018 offseason). Lack of interest last offseason resulted in Desmond agreeing to a one-year deal, but MLB Trade Rumors expects that he will be able to land a multi-year deal this time around in the $60 million range. A multi-year deal for Desmond would probably only make sense for the Yankees if they are able to move Brett Gardner and/or Jacoby Ellsbury in the near future, though.

Do you think the Yankees should sign Desmond or pass?