Nationals Acquire Denard Span

In case you missed it, the Washington Nationals traded young fireballer Alex Meyer to the Twins for centerfielder Denard Span. A great deal for many reasons, for both sides.

First, from Minnesota’s side, they trade from strength and surplus in return for a sorely needed entity: a pitcher with high velocity and high upside. With Span out of the way, Ben Revere can move in to center and the leadoff spot, and the Twins won’t miss a beat. And, the Twins add a youngster who at worst projects to be a lights-out closer, at best becomes a front-of-the-rotation starter.

Looking at the deal from Washington’s perspective, a huge hole at the top of the lineup has been filled. Span is a lock to post a .350+ OBP, and, playing in the NL and under the aggressive Davey Johnson, likely to steal 20-30 bases. But the offense will be gravy compared to Span’s defense in centerfield — and further, Washington’s overall defense in the outfield. As of today, it appears that the Nats will field three centerfielders in the outfield: Span in center, Jayson Werth in right, and Bryce Harper in left. Assuming he isn’t traded, last year’s leftfielder Michael Morse moves to 1B, and the Nats can let Adam LaRoche walk away as a free agent. Or, they make a lowball offer to LaRoche and get him to sign because he wants to be part of a winner, and then they have the flexibility to trade Morse for yet another big piece.

This deal looks even better when you realize Span will cost the Nats “only” $11.25M for the next two years, and can keep him for a third if they pull the trigger on a $9M team option. That’s an absolute bargain for a player of Span’s caliber in his peak years — if you don’t believe it, look at what B.J. Upton just received from the Braves, and/or wait and see what thirtysomething centerfielder Michael Bourn gets when he signs later this winter.

By adding Span, the Nats now have Roger Bernadina and Tyler Moore on the bench, and/or available as trade bait. Is it me or does it seem like the rich get richer? I guess that’s how it feels when one follows the outfielderless Mets.

Oh, did I mention that Span was born in Washington, D.C.?

Washington Nationals fans have to be very pleased with this deal. Mets fans, what can I tell you? I’m trying hard, but can’t envision a one-for-one deal that the Mets can make that would both fill two gaping holes and create flexibility to fill more holes. But maybe I’m not seeing the forest for the trees — post your notes in the comments.

12-13 Offseason

About the Author

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.

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