The Nationals, who are no stranger to dealing blue chippers for proven commodities, have landed Denard Span, filling their center field void, in exchange for Alex Meyer, one of their top prospects and potential number two starter.
The Nationals could have gone the free agent route, like they did with Jayson Werth two off-seasons ago, but after seeing B.J. Upton get a $75M contract, there was almost no way they would pursue Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino, or Angel Pagan. They instead turned their focus to Span, a player general manager Mike Rizzo inquired about in 2011, who will only be making $11.75M guaranteed over the next two seasons or $20.25M over three years if they pick up the final option year.
Span’s contract runs through his age 29-31 seasons so the Nationals will be getting some of his best years without any of his decline years. And in Span’s best years he has the upside of a 4 fWAR player. In fact, he was well on his to a 5-win season before injuries nagged him last year.
Span’s value is in his excellent speed that has helped him produce a +21.9 UZR in center over the past three seasons and a career +15.6 BsR in 589 career games and excellent contact skills that have led to an 11.1% strikeout rate over the past three seasons but his power is probably a 30 on the scouting scale. His value with the bat will rely heavily on his BABIP and walk rates which have declined almost every season since his rookie year but was still a solid 8.3% last season.
The Nationals’ outfield will now be one of the best rounded outfields in the game as Span will insert directly in-between Werth and phenom Bryce Harper, making for one happy pitching staff.
The re-building Twins will likely move rangy outfielder Ben Revere to center and let newly acquired pitcher Alex Meyer make the proper adjustments needed to remain a starter in pro ball, thus keeping his value at its highest.
Meyer is a potential number two starter with an ace’s fastball that sits mid-to-high 90s with a plus slider that will make most right-handed hitters flailing at it for strikes. The main knocks on Meyer are the lack of a third pitch and flawed mechanics, both of which have lead some to believe he will be a reliever, albeit a high-leverage one.
The Twins have the luxury of allowing him to develop that third pitch and smooth out his mechanics where a team like the Nationals, who are in win-now mode, could have rushed him to the Majors in a bullpen role and left a lot of his value on the table.
The Nationals have now turned that potential value into a proven commodity they wisely sold the top prospect at the right time for a player who will help them win now and would be worth more to them than Meyer would as they try and reach the playoffs and World Series in 2013.
Three or four years from now we may be looking at this trade as a major win for the Twins but as it stands for the contending Nationals this a major win for them now.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis Tagged: | Alex Meyer, Angel Pagan, B.J. Upton, Ben Revere, Denard Span, Hot Stove, Jayson Werth, Michael Bourn, Mike Rizzo, Minnesota Twins, Prospects, Shane Victorino, Trades, Washington Nationals