Are Span's Days in Minnesota Numbered?
Yeah, it's fair to say that I'm a big fan of Span. So I'm going to make sure to savor watching what will very likely be his final month in a Twins uniform.
There are a number of factors that lead me to believe Span's departure from the organization is imminent.
First and foremost, there's Ben Revere's emergence as a legitimate top-of-the-lineup asset. The Twins seem well aware that Revere isn't suited for right field, and at this point his production is almost identical to Span's. Moving Revere to center would create an opening in right field for Chris Parmelee, who's hopelessly buried at this point.
Even as someone who thoroughly enjoys watching Span play, I must admit that trading him makes a lot of sense from a team-building standpoint. It would open opportunities for young players while hopefully returning talent at an organizational area of need.
The fact that the Twins have floated Span to other teams in the past would also support the notion that they're open to moving him. Reports indicated that they were close to shipping him to Washington at the deadline last year, and those rumblings – from what I heard – did not sit well with the outfielder at all.
Is there lingering animosity between player and organization? That certainly hasn't been on display this year. In fact, Ron Gardenhire recently said that Span "might've been our best player in the first half this year." I was struck by that statement, mainly because the center fielder's production hasn't been especially outstanding. A part of me couldn't help but wonder whether Gardy was taking that angle with reporters in an effort to increase Span's appeal to potential suitors.
Presumably, finding interested trade partners won't be a huge challenge. Span's concussion issues appear to be a thing of the past, and although he's no longer the top-notch offensive force he was in his first two seasons, he's a very solid 28-year-old leadoff man who handles center field well.
His team-friendly contract runs through 2014 (with a 2015 club option) and will pay him just $11 million over the next two seasons. That's a good value for what he brings to the table, but it's also money the Twins could stand to spend elsewhere. Opening up that payroll space, while also creating opportunities for younger guys and getting future assets back in return, is basically a no-brainer regardless of your feelings on Span.
Terry Ryan and the rest of the front office brain trust surely realize this, which is why whispers of the center fielder's availability are already leaking out.
It wouldn't surprise me if Gardenhire actually does feel like Span has been his best player up to this point. The guy's been a soldier, bouncing back from a tumultuous season and playing in 71 of the club's 77 games over the first three months, providing consistency and stability at the top of the lineup and in the middle of the outfield.
Trading him just makes too much sense, however, regardless of whether the Twins are positioning themselves as a seller or not. I'll be very surprised if he's still on the team come August 1st.