Denard Span stepped into the box to lead off Tuesday night's game and turned on the third pitch he saw from left-hander David Huff, driving it into right field for a double and sparking a three-hit night. In six games since returning from the disabled list, the center fielder is now 9-for-25 (.360) with two doubles, a triple and four runs scored.
His late-season success bodes well for Terry Ryan heading into an offseason where Span will likely be the club's primary trade chip.
Following what will almost certainly be a second consecutive season with 90-plus losses, there's going to be plenty of pressure on Ryan to shake things up. The emergence of Chris Parmelee makes the Twins motivated sellers, and given that they have not-so-subtly dangled Span in back-to-back trade deadlines, the writing is on the wall.
There's an extremely high likelihood that Span will be dealt this offseason. So the question is: what can they get for him?
When it comes to assessing his trade value, he has several things working in his favor. He's an established leadoff man with a reputation as a strong defender. He'll be coming off a solid season in which he currently holds a .290 average (third among AL center fielders) and .350 OBP (fourth) with a career-high 34 doubles.
It's also very much worth noting that the free agent crop for center fielders this offseason will be quite thin. Unless you count Josh Hamilton, the most appealing options are B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn. Not one of those players is clearly a better bet going forward than Span, whose three-year, $20 million remaining contract looks like a great value compared to what those three are likely to get on the open market.
Then again, Span also has some things going against him. No one views him as the powerful force he was in 2008/09 anymore, and his missed time over the past two seasons has to weigh on the minds of interested general managers. Even if he plays every game the rest of the way, he will have missed 127 games over the past two years.
Fortunately, last year's concussion is now an afterthought and his strong play since returning from this latest shoulder ailment will help erase concerns that this one could linger. That's why carrying his current hot streak through the end of the campaign would be a big positive for the Twins.
Just one more thing to watch
here in the final two weeks.