Spanning The Future

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After much speculation about how they would handle center field for the foreseeable future, the Washington Nationals answered that question today, acquiring Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins. In exchange, Washington sent Minor League right-handed pitcher Alex Meyer back to the Twin Cities.

“He fits very well for us,” said EVP of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo of Span. “His skill set is something we have been looking for for some years now. He’s a front-line defensive center fielder and a consumate leadoff type hitter.”

Span, after hitting a walk-of single last season with the Minnesota Twins.

Span is expected to lead off and play center field for the Nationals in 2013, allowing Bryce Harper to shift to a more natural corner outfield spot and Jayson Werth to return to the middle of the lineup. Rizzo cited the Nationals wealth of defensive outfielders, mentioning that all three were capable of playing center field at a Major League level.

“I’m definitely excited, I’m very excited to be coming to Washington,” said span of his trade to the Nats, specifically singling out Harper and Werth. “I’m ready to be coming to a team that is already in place to win. They’re definitely going to elevate my game, just playing alongside them.”

Rizzo also said on Thursday that he has had his eye on Span for a while now, and even saw him play as a prepster at Tampa Catholic High School. He explained that discussions with the Twins have been ongoing for the past three to four weeks, but that they accelerated at the General Managers Meetings in Indian Wells earlier this month.

Span has compiled a career .284/.357/.389 Major League slash line playing almost entirely in center field over the last five seasons for the Twins. He has also stolen 90 bases over that time, including 17 in 128 games last year. Rizzo believes that speed may develop even farther with Span’s move to the more small ball-oriented Senior Circuit.

“We think he’s really going to come into his own as a base-stealer here in the National League,” the GM said, also noting Span’s strong ability to make contact. “He’s one of the tougher guys in the league to strike out.”

Span is expected to lead off and play center field for the Nats.

The 28 year-old whiffed just 62 times in 568 plate appearances in 2012 while drawing 47 walks. Born in D.C., the Tampa, Florida native was originally selected 20th overall by Minnesota in the first round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft. After spending his first 10 years as a professional with Minnesota, Span said his change of scenery makes him a little nervous, but more so excited.

“That’s the greatest feeling any ballplayer can have is know they’re wanted,” said Span of Washington’s – and particularly Mike Rizzo’s – desire to acquire him. “I could hear it in his voice, how excited he was to have me.”

With the trade, the Nationals do not give up any Major League talent while acquiring a player in Span who is under contract for the next two seasons with a team option for 2015. Meyer, the return in the trade, just finished his first professional season, which he split between Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac.

“To get a good, established Major League player at Denard’s age with the contract that he has, you have to give up a quality player,” said Rizzo, explaining that it is always a tough decision to part with young prospects, but that it was the right time for the move. “We feel that we have great depth in the Minor League system.”

With tonight’s trade, the Nationals have filled the first missing piece of their 2013 puzzle.

27 Comments

Ugh. I really, REALLY liked Meyer. Let’s hope that the rest of our deep pitching farm continues to look as good as it does.

This is a great trade. We have a ton of depth in pitching, and Denard Span is a great deal player. We have tons of surplus in pitching and catching, and can definetly afford to trade some away.

So, who sits now Morse, Werth or Harper?

morse is the odd man out. He either moves to first to platoon with tyler moore or if they sign larache then they probably trade morse.

Platoon? They are both right handed and Morse is a better offensive player right now. Moore will be the best righty on the bench while Bernadina and Tracy help fill out one of the best benches in the majors.

morse wont platoon with moor. if they re-sign laroche, morse will most likely be traded. but morse is currently first base

ha ha Harper sitting…

Morse moves to 1B, LaRoche, lamentably, moves on. This is a nice move, but needless unless Nats are resigned to LaRoche’s departure, sad as that may be. I love the guy: he put up studly numbers and has a gorgeous glove. But let’s guess Rizzo doesn’t want to give him a multi-year deal. This is the “so-long, we’re backed up” trade.

This trade is to either put pressure on LaRoche or fill in for him (because negotiations might have already fallen through) . My reasoning for this is that Span is a good left handed bat and could help fill that gap as the middle of the lineup opens up, where Span takes over at leadoff and then we can have Harper become a left-handed power-hitter in the middle and then have Werth play to power or contact depending on how DJ plays the order. Morse was the first baseman that filled in for Laroche when he missed most of the 2011 season and ended up our MVP which included his defense. Moore would platoon the outfield or first base as Lombo would fill the middle or help in the outfield as well. This is another great, out of the blue trade by Rizzo that puts the Nats at a great depth. Go Nats!

awesome trade. now resign laroche and deal morse for relief pitching and i would consider the offseason perfect.

I REALLY don’t want to see Morse go, but he has value on the open market. Also, Moore proved that is ready to start FT in the majors. Letting LaRoche get away, although regrettable, opens up $$$ for other needs. Let’s hope Dan Haren’s hip/back issues are behind him…

what are they thinking.span is overrated and alex meyer will be awesomne,stupid stupid trade

I agree completely. Now what happens with Morse,Bernadina, Perez & Goodwin?

Exactly!

Sounds like he is less of what Bernadina would be if they played him full time.

I meant to reply EXACTLY to this post and not the one above it. But it does apply to both.

This is the beginning of the end for Mikey Mo. He’s the most logical to be trade IF they re-sign LaRoche.

And I agree with Ferg that this is a classic Rizzo move. Best GM going right now!

You are forgetting that we need another starting pitcher unless you see that pitcher coming from the minors (Lannan?)

I’ll miss Morse’s a-ha walk up song…he was a lot of fun, making ’12 a season I will never forget, but I think he (or Laroche, just as lamentably) will be playing elsewhere next season.

Good pick up although i saw Meyer pitch at Potomac and was impressed. now they need a front-line starter…maybe they can package morse and a couple of prospects, or morse and espinosa for a top quality starter. otherwise, Lucas Harrell in Houston could be a diamond in the rough — .500 on a bad team, better than average whip, 2-1 K’s to walks, not less than 5 innings in any start last year, and would likely come cheap. pair him up with mccatty and while maybe not another GIO, you could have a quality starter.

Still… Sure hate to see the Beast go. With his size he could be great at defense on 1’st and might help his endurance and longevity. For the fans Morse like Harper add more fun watching games.

I don’t like messing with the chemistry I thought the team had. Besides that brings up questions. Which 30 home run hitter are you going to sit…LaRoche (if you sign him) or Morse? I know Morse didn’t hit that many last year but he was hurt. Assuming that we keep either of the aforementioned, how do we develop Tyler Moore? How can you not be impressed by that kids performance at the plate? It’ll be tough for him to improve his defense if he is constantly moved and doesn’t get a chance to play even remotely close to every day. I hope he’s got plenty of options left. I just don’t understand why you mess with the best record in baseball.

The signing of Spann does make it look as if LaRoche will not be re-signed.He will be missed not only by the team but also by the fans. I do think that it’s a mistake, but, Rizzo knows best, I guess.

I hate to see LaRoche go to another team. We will regret that move if it happens. Better to resign him and trade Morse, who can not run. And Ed is right about Bernadina, they keep him on the bench most of the time when he is really probably better than Spann. The off season is too long and these moves drive me crazy.

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