The recent signing of Adam Kennedy by the Nationals puts the ascendency of Ian Desmond to the starting shortstop position at least on temporary hold as Cristian Guzman will be sliding back over to that position as a result of the move. That said, the Nationals are not expected to challenge for the post season and both Guzman and Kennedy (an option for 2011) are free agents after this season which means Desmond could be back up to try and claim a job if one or both of those players are moved. While thought of highly for his defensive prowess, Desmond is not a significant offensive threat as someone who walks 8 to 10|PERCENT| of the time and keeps his strikeout rates in the 17 to 20|PERCENT| range. While some believe he may be able to generate double-digits home run power and hit for average due to good bat speed he will have to improve on his mid-50-percent ground-ball rates at both the minor league and MLB level to do so. His speed is average, but is a smart base runner and could reach double digits in steals at his peak which I think might be along the lines of .280 10 HR 15 steals. I would be surprised by much more than that from him. His defense will always be the driving force behind him staying in the lineup.
The A's acquired Michael Taylor straight up for Ben Wallace in the aftermath of the Roy Halladay trade. Though Taylor is not yet on the A's 40-man roster and is not considered a challenger for a starting lineup spot just yet, the A's are a team that could use his power given that they currently list Coco Crisp and Rajai Davis as starters in center field and left field respectively and have Ryan Sweeney and Travis Buck as options for right field. Even if he starts the season in triple-A, which is fairly likely, he could be up in the Majors to stay before May is out. Taylor was a 20-20 player between double-A and triple-A last year, walking 10|PERCENT| of the time and making contact 83 to 84|PERCENT| of the time and had no platoon split. Taylor profiles as a 20 HR 20 SB player who can hit for average in the Majors. The power has more upside. It will be interesting to see how long the speed lasts though for this 6'6" 250 pounder.
The Twins, though there are some free agent options remaining, appear to be heading into the season with a third base committee headed by Brendan Harris and backed up by Nick Punto. While both players are not the worst starters in the world, their bats are better suited to second base and even better – utility roles. Enter Danny Valencia who made it as far as triple-A in 2009. He hit 14 home runs and 38 doubles between two levels and made strides in plate selectivity in double-A, walking 12.3|PERCENT| of the time while striking out just 18.3|PERCENT| of the time on his way to a solid .287 .373 .482 line, but did not translate those improvements upon his promotion to triple-A. Although he hit in the .280's he walked under 3|PERCENT| of the time and kept his batting average on the strength of striking out less than 14|PERCENT| of the time. He has good raw power and could hit 20+ HR in the majors, but needs a lot of work with respect to the consistency of his defense and the consistency of his plate discipline (8|PERCENT| walk rate for his career is what I would expect for him to eventually show in the Majors). He profiles as a mediocre MLB starter who is probably a .270's hitter at best, but still has more upside than the other players the Twins are currently utilizing at third.