- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

SURPRISE, Ariz. — Former Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond has agreed to a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers that, when finalized, will include a move to the outfield for the one-time all-star.

The $8 million deal, first reported by Fox Sports, was subject to Desmond passing a physical, according to a baseball official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal was still pending. The 30-year-old had spent all seven of his major-league seasons with the Nationals.

Desmond will likely play left field for the American League West champion Rangers with Josh Hamilton expected to miss at least the first month of the season because of left knee issues.

Hamilton, a five-time all-star and the American League MVP in 2010, had two operations on his knee last year and a cortisone shot in January. He experienced soreness and swelling in the knee after reporting to Arizona early and still has several days on crutches after a stem cell and platelet-rich plasma injection last week.

“I want what’s best for the team,” Hamilton said Sunday after word of the deal spread through camp. “I want to do whatever I can, obviously, on the field to help the team win, but if I’m not there, I expect them to put somebody out there that’s going to give us the best chance to win.”

Texas will forfeit its first-round pick in the June amateur draft, No. 19 overall, because Desmond rejected a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals after last season. They also reportedly offered him a seven-year, $107 million contract extension two years ago.

The Nationals will get a compensatory pick after the first round once Desmond’s deal is finalized. Texas also has a compensatory pick in June since right-hander Yovani Gallardo signed with the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday after turning down a qualifying offer from the Rangers.

Desmond has started only one of his 927 career games in the outfield. Along with the shift, he could give shortstop Elvis Andrus an occasional break, as well as second baseman Rougned Odor.

Andrus, a two-time all-star, said he was told that Desmond will be playing left field “and not to worry about it.” Andrus said he first met Desmond while facing each other in the minor leagues.

“Good personality, going to fit right in,” Andrus said. “We want to give him that welcome, and make him feel comfortable, for sure.”

Desmond has a .264 career batting average with 110 home runs and 432 RBI. He was an all-star in 2012 and has won three Silver Slugger awards, but struggled for much of last season when he hit .233 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI and made a National League-high 27 errors.

The only major-league game Desmond started in the outfield was in 2009, when he played right field for the Nationals and had three putouts in seven innings. He also played 1/3 of an inning in right field late in a game the following season. He has also started five games at second base, with his other 889 career starts at shortstop.

Hamilton, who turns 35 on May 1, never went to spring training last year with the Los Angeles Angels because he was recovering from shoulder surgery. He tore ligaments in his left thumb early in the 2014 season, so he has appeared in only 139 games the past two seasons.

He said manager Jon Daniels and Jeff Banister told him they wanted to have depth and for him to keep working to get healthy.

“I’m really focused and all-in on the fact of doing this right, and getting to a spot where I can get back and help however I can,” Hamilton said.


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