SURPRISE, Ariz. — Free agent 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 shortstop.
The $8 million deal, first reported by Fox Sports, was subject to Desmond passing a physical, according to a baseball official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Sunday because the deal was still pending. The 30-year-old has spent all seven of his major league seasons with the Washington Nationals.
Desmond is expected to play leftfield for the AL West champion Rangers since Josh Hamilton will start the season on the disabled list and is expected to miss at least the first month of the season because of left knee issues.
“I want what’s best for the team. 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,” Hamilton said Sunday after word of the deal spread through camp.
Hamilton, a five-time All-Star and the 2010 AL MVP, had two operations on his knee last year and a cortisone shot in January. But he experienced soreness and swelling after reporting to Arizona early, and still has several days on crutches after a stem cell and platelet-rich plasma injection last week.
Desmond has started only one of his 927 career games in the outfield.
Along with the shift to the outfield, Desmond 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 RBIs. He was an All-Star shortstop in 2012 and has won three Silver Slugger awards, but he struggled for much of last season, when he hit .233 with 19 homers and 62 RBIs and made an NL-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 one-third 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 coming as a shortstop.
Desmond’s deal came a day after the Rangers re-signed Drew Stubbs to a minor league contract.
Hamilton, who turns 35 on May 1, never went to spring training last year with the Los Angeles Angels when he was coming off 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.
Hamilton said manager Jon Daniels and Jeff Banister told him they wanted to have depth and for him to keep working to get healthy. He said he was with them 100 percent.
“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.
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.
The Nationals will get a compensatory pick after the first round once Desmond’s deal with another team is finalized. But Texas also has a compensatory pick in June since right-hander Yovani Gallardo signed with Baltimore on Thursday after turning down a qualifying offer after last season with the Rangers.