Fresh off winning more games than any other team in baseball, the Nationals have filled an immediate need by picking up center fielder Denard Span from the Twins via trade. In exchange, the Twins get starting pitching prospect Alex Meyer. Span was the subject of trade rumors last July, but his fate has just now been sealed. So what are we to make of this trade, anyway?
Well, it makes a lot of sense for both sides. Adding Span, who figures to be an above-average center fielder at least for now, allows the Nationals to forget all about Adam LaRoche if they want to and stick the hulking Michael Morse and his butcher’s glove over at first base. The team gets better right away. Span seems like he can be counted on as around a 3-WAR player who will help his new team with the glove and aboard the bases. As far as actually getting on base in the first place, Span has long displayed an ability to draw walks at an average to slightly above average clip. That leaves his value at the plate largely up to his BABIP figures, as he’s not the kind of solid contact hitter who can be counted on tally a high batting average every season.
As for the financial end of things, the Nationals will pay Span a perfectly reasonable $4.75 million next season and $6.5 million in 2014. Should they choose to, they can also exercise a team option in 2015 for $9 million or buy him out for $1 million. Since Span is only 28, he’s nearly a lock to earn his keep and then some for the next two seasons, though it remains to be seen if Washington will want to keep him around beyond that point at a much higher rate of pay.
Alex Meyer, the prospect heading to Minnesota, has his charms as well. Just 22, Meyer is a 6’9″ right-hander who held his own in A-ball and High-A ball over the course of 2012. Baseball America had him as one of the best prospects in the Twins’ system, and he works with an interesting fastball and slider repertoire. It’s important for the Twins to stock up on young players to rebuild their organization, and Meyer is a step in the right direction. It sort of seems like the Twins may have been able to get a bit more, but it’s hard to pan this trade for either side.