Nationals Fleece Twins in Denard Span Trade
On Thursday, in what has been a long suspected match, the Twins finally sent centerfielder Denard Span, to the Nationals in exchange for pitching prospect, Alex Meyer. The Nationals were able to accomplish a goal they have been seeking since their days in Montreal in acquiring Span.
Span is a significant addition to an already formidable Nationals club. He gives them the top of the lineup bat they had been seeking as well as providing superb defense in center field. Over the past 5 seasons, Span has been one of the best centerfielders in the game, accruing a 16.5 bWAR in that span (no pun intended). He is an ideal leadoff hitter, who can reach base at a decent clip (career .357 OBP), provide strong gap power and steal plenty of bases. Just for fun, here’s a look at the Nationals’ projected lineup for next season:
1. Denard Span, CF
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Mike Morse, 1B
5. Bryce Harper, RF
6. Ian Desmond, SS
7. Danny Espinosa, 2B
8. Wilson Ramos, C
This move likely spells the end to Bryce Harper’s run as a centerfielder, moving him to his natural position of right field. Jayson Werth will move to left, likely pushing Mike Morse to first base. The Nationals have been looking to resign free agent first baseman Adam Laroche, who had a career year with the Nats last season, hitting 33 home runs with a .853 OPS. With Morse moving to first, the Nationals don’t really have a need for Laroche, as he would have nowhere to play. The Nationals could look to trade Morse to a team seeking an offensive bat, but with Laroche’s reported high price tag, I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept Morse and let Laroche go. Overall I love this trade for the Nationals as they secure an all-star caliber centerfielder, while giving up very little in return.
As for the Twins, they receive a strong right-handed pitching prospect in Alex Meyer. Meyer, who managed to grab the last spot on my top 100 prospect list last spring, is a tall (6-9), projectable righty with an overwhelming fastball and a plus slider. Meyer posted a 2.86 ERA in 129 innings last season. He projects as a no. 2/3 starter, but may very well wind up in the bullpen due to common command problems that come with pitchers of his stature.
To be honest, I think Meyer is quite a small return for Span, who was probably Minnesota’s best trade asset. Although Minnesota has another center fielder in Ben Revere, who has roughly the same skill set as Span, to take his place, I still feel as if the Twins could have at least gotten another grade B prospect in return. For a team that needs all the value it can get, this return seems light.
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