Desmond talked to reporters after signing his $8 million, one-year contract. The Rangers announced the deal Monday morning, and Desmond was set to take part in workouts.
The Nationals extended a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Desmond, but he elected to test free agency. The Rangers must surrender a first-round draft pick to the Nationals for signing Desmond, who reportedly turned down a seven-year, $107 million extension offer from the Nationals before the 2014 season.
The Nationals wished Desmond well on Monday in a tweet thanking him for his time in Washington.
Good luck, Ian. We wouldn't be where we are today without you. pic.twitter.com/lRvcQF0a3i— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) February 29, 2016
Desmond lauded the Rangers for being "creative" and "trusting enough to believe in me to be able to change positions."
He has played shortstop throughout his seven seasons with the Washington Nationals. With Josh Hamilton set to start the season on the disabled list, Desmond will be playing left field for the AL West champion Rangers. The 30-year-old Desmond was an All-Star shortstop in 2012 but has started only one of his 927 career games in the outfield.
General manager Jon Daniels, who spoke to Desmond several times before the deal was complete, said a review of reports on Desmond included many scouts saying in the past that they bet he could play center field. Desmond's willingness to play left field was a key factor in the Rangers signing him.
"It's a really natural fit for us as far as the kind of player we look for, elite athlete, tremendous makeup, and whoever you ask, it's universal, this guy's a big-time competitor, plays hard, runs hard, pushes other players,'' Daniels said. "It was something that presented itself late in the process that we couldn't pass up. This is a winning piece, a winning player, on a team that expects to win. To add that kind of piece here late in the process, it is a really great fit for us.''
Desmond acknowledged that he is about 7-10 days behind his new Rangers teammates but said he's "going to work as hard as I can and put out there what I can."
"I respect every position and each challenge that it has," Desmond said Monday. "As far as swallowing my pride and moving to the outfield, that's not going to be a problem."
Desmond said he did his "research" before signing with the Rangers and noted his teammates' unselfishness.
"They've got an unbelievable group of guys that are all equally willing to do what's necessary to win. I consider myself a team-first guy," he said.
He acknowledge that it's "tough" to have to switch from shortstop as "the numbers will tell you I can hold my own" but he knows what Elvis Andrus can do at the position.
Desmond noted that Andrus has "eight years in the big leagues and he's not even 28. That speaks to the type of player he is and what he can do."
To make room on their 40-man roster, the Rangers placed right-hander Tanner Scheppers on the 60-day disabled list because of torn cartilage in his left knee.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.