Brass tacks - Does this make the Nats better for 2015?
It's tough because Clippard was so very useful and while Espinosa was a bad choice to start at 2B, Escobar isn't really a good one. In the end though Escobar will play everyday and the Nats bullpen should shake out ok so I'll say tentatively yes. But it's not a guarantee.
Is it a good deal overall?
That's much clearer, yes. Escobar is signed for reasonable money for the next three years and that third year is actually an option so if Escobar is terrible the Nats can just let him go for a million.
Clippard is going to get paid a lot this year and will enter FA. If he's very good again you could see him getting a deal like 3/27 or 4/30 something like that. Clippard is a good reliever but guaranteeing that type of money to a relief pitcher is a luxury purchase. The Nats don't need that. Also Clippard has had a ton of work since being a reliever.
Short version : He's walking and the Nats got value for him.
Does this mean Desmond isn't coming back?
Was the fact they've been trying hard to deal him not a sign? What about the fact that they haven't really talked to him about an extension? Umm yeah he's not coming back.
So Yuney is the SS of the future?
Well they are hoping Trea Turner is the shortstop of the future. Escobar is the SS of 2016 assuming Turner doesn't tear up the minors.
Does not signing Desmond and freeing up some money with Clippard mean the Nats are going to sign Zimmermann?
I don't know.
I want to say no. That's my intuition. But really it depends on what their payroll ceiling is. They should have money to do something, unless they are looking to go under 100 million, but I'd bet on Bryce and Rendon extensions first.