Nationals exercise 2015 option on Denard Span’s contract

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by Amanda Comak

The Washington Nationals exercised their option on Denard Span’s contract on Thursday, securing the center fielder’s services for the 2015 season, which will be Span’s third in the District.

In exercising the option, the Nationals answered one of their first offseason questions, and ensured that the talented leadoff man will remain atop their lineup and patrolling center field for at least one more season.

“We knew when we acquired Denard from the Minnesota Twins two years ago what type of player we were getting,” said Nationals President of Baseball Operations & General Manager Mike Rizzo. “And he’s done nothing but bear that out the last two seasons.

“Denard was arguably our most consistent offensive player in 2014, keying so much of our offensive production, and his defense in center field is Gold Glove-caliber on a nightly basis. We’re excited to keep him in the fold for the 2015 season.”

Washington Nationals vs. the Miami Marlins baseballSpan is coming off perhaps his finest professional season, finishing the 2014 campaign batting .302 with a .355 on-base percentage, a .415 slugging percentage and a career-best 31 stolen bases. He set a Nationals (2005-present) record for hits in a season with 184, and reeled off a 36-game on-base streak from June 28 – Aug. 12 that jumpstarted both his season and the Nationals’ offense.

Over the course of the streak, Span hit .396 with a .463 on-base percentage, and a .458 slugging percentage. It seemed almost every time he made contact the ball found a hole and the 30-year-old found a way to get on base. His BABIP during the stretch: a ridiculous .442.

The Nationals went 21-15 in that stretch, catapulting themselves from a tie with the Atlanta Braves atop the National League East Division to a five-game lead over them by the time the streak ended.

“I couldn’t be more excited to return for another year in D.C,” Span said after he was informed his option was exercised.

For the second consecutive year, Span is a finalist for the Rawlings Gold Glove Award, the winners of which will be announced on Nov. 4.

Additionally, the Nationals declined to exercise their options on first baseman Adam LaRoche and right-hander Rafael Soriano. They will become free agents. Asdrubal Cabrera, Scott Hairston and Nate Schierholtz became free agents upon the conclusion of the 2014 World Series.

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