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  • Twins trade Denard Span for Nationals' 2011 first round pick

    The Twins announce that they have have traded Denard Span to the Washington Nationals for pitcher Alex Meyer, a 2011 first round draft pick (23rd overall).

    The big-bodied Meyer, 6'9" and 220, spent last year split between A and High-A, striking out 26.6% of batters faced, walking just 8.6% and produced a 2.86 ERA which led to an invite to the Futures Game.

    Fangraphs.com had an excellent write-up on Meyer, noting that his 97-98 MPH fastball is very impressive in addition to his slider - which Baseball America considered the system's best after the 2011 season. From the Fangraphs.com's article, here's Mike Newman's (Scouting the Sally) scouting report on Meyer's secondary stuff:

    Meyer mixed in an upper-80′s slider with tight, late break. At its best, his arm action was identical to that of his fastball and it profiled as at least an above-average pitch. However, Meyer’s inconsistent mechanics caused him to intermittently drop his elbow or collapse his back leg leading to at least a handful of “hangers” up in the zone. Repetition and experience may help to iron these issues out, but once again, Meyer’s size and previous track record leaves questions as to how seamless those adjustments will be.

    The most surprising aspect of Meyer’s outing was a changeup which was significantly better than expected. At 87-88 MPH, it was a harder change, but his arm action and late drop leaves the projection of an average third pitch — a key for projecting a starting pitcher. Once again, his command was inconsistent causing him to leave the pitch up and out to right-handed hitters too often, but it’s a strong starting point to build from.
    Newman went on to say that the name that popped into his head the most was "Matt Clement" - a promising pitcher who never lived up to the hype.

    Following his draft in 2011, Baseball America's Aaron Fitt said this about the right-hander, noting caution of mechanical issues which plagues taller pitchers:

    Talk about a guy with huge upside, that is Alex Meyer. I saw him at the Houston College Classic this year. I believe the Nationals director of scouting, Kris Kline, was there also. His fastball was hitting the mid-90s and he can run it up to 97-98 mph with life, and he has an explosive breaking ball.

    It was a power knuckle-breaking ball. He called it a knuckle-curve. It really looks more like a slider most of the time. It is a mid-80s mph pitch that can just be a wipeout offering. It is one of the better breaking balls that you will see out there when he has got it going.

    He is making progress as a pitcher. There is risk with this guy. He is 6-foot-9 and like many tall pitchers there are a lot of moving parts. There is a lot going on in that delivery. It takes a lot for those guys to put it all together.

    He reminded me a lot of Andrew Brackman, who was a basketball player at N.C. State who also played baseball. When Brackman was on in college, he was dominant. But again, there is a lot you've got to harness with those tall guys."

    Clement and now Brackman? Uff. Not the most impressive comparables. Still, as Fitt said, there is high-upside there, potential to be a top-of-the-rotation guy - something the Twins don't have now, nor deeper in the farm system. Given his age (23 in January), there's an outside possibility that Meyer could be ready to join the rotation sometime in 2014.

    In trading Span, the Twins free themselves of a $4.75 million commitment for 2013 and $7 million in 2014 ($6.5M plus a $500,000 buyout).
    Comments 321 Comments
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Anorthagen View Post
      I am sad about seeing span go, but I knew it was for the good of the team. It also lowered the payroll, which was good. But I really think Ryan should have tried to get somebody who is ready or already in the big leagues, instead of a guy who can't help us till 2014.
      The problem with getting a guy who is ready/already in the big leagues is:
      1. That player may not have a lot of team control left.
      2. That player probably doesn't have nearly as high of a ceiling as Meyer does.

      Chances are you would have to settle for an average #3/#4 with only a couple years of team control left. The Braves weren't going to give up a guy like Minor no matter how much some of us wanted to pray/believe.

      Meyer while not ready now, shouldn't take to much more seasoning to be ready. 2014 is only a year away after all
    1. mudcat14's Avatar
      mudcat14 -
      I'm really quite surprised that this is a one for one deal. Granted Meyer has oustanding upside, but also a high potential for failure having not pitched above the 'A' level. I would have expected another piece to come the Twins way in a deal like this. At least it should free up some cash to help add a short-term solution or two in the starting rotation.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by mikeee View Post
      Jim Hoey threw the ball hard too.
      Derp.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      You realize that prior to 2012 he had exactly 0 pitches thrown for a major league organization right? How is "nothing he did" in 2012 worthy of ranking him higher? He had a very successful 2012 IMO and it isn't all about k rate (even though a 9.7 k/9 is in fact pretty good, especially when he has a respectable BB rate, a great WHIP and a solid GB rate of about 55%)

      I'm not trying to start an argument or anything, I just think his 2012 bumps his value up quite a bit.
      In my mind, a 22-year-old college pitcher SHOULD dominate Low A, and probably should dominate High A. He certainly didn't do the latter, with a K rate in the 7s, albeit in 39 innings. Now, maybe he was tired or something, I don't know. I'm not saying he hurt his value. I just don't think he necessarily helped it.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Alex Myers the name James Shields gives himself when he wears his high heels? Otherwise, reality strikes again. In a good way I might add - a solid prospect that slots to be coming to the majors about the same time as our best young talent? Sounds like the right kind of trade to me. Now to see if it pans out.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      I like this deal. I was trying to lower expectations earlier this morning about what we could actually fetch in a trade for Span, and this as good as we could have realistically hoped for in a prospect. Plus, he's absolutely huge, throws hard, and his control is not that bad. I understand that he's 22 and was pitching in two levels in A-ball, but he pitched well at both levels. The Nationals have a decent organization, and it wasn't Meyer's choice not to get a call up. Danny Hultzen was considered close to MLB-ready, but the Mariners kept him in AA ball for most of the year, and he's a little older.

      I think the bigger thing though is that this guy gives us a chip and a chair at a frontline starter, and the loss of Span really does not harm the team's future plans too much. Span was a likable guy and a good ballplayer, but he had other limitations, and we're lucky that he was even tradable given his prior concussion issues (and other little injuries).
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      You realize that prior to 2012 he had exactly 0 pitches thrown for a major league organization right? How is "nothing he did" in 2012 worthy of ranking him higher? He had a very successful 2012 IMO and it isn't all about k rate (even though a 9.7 k/9 is in fact pretty good, especially when he has a respectable BB rate, a great WHIP and a solid GB rate of about 55%)

      I'm not trying to start an argument or anything, I just think his 2012 bumps his value up quite a bit.
      In my mind, a 22-year-old college pitcher SHOULD dominate Low A, and probably should dominate High A. He certainly didn't do the latter, with a K rate in the 7s, albeit in 39 innings. Now, maybe he was tired or something, I don't know. I'm not saying he hurt his value. I just don't think he necessarily helped it.
      If we are going to play the short sample size game in 39 IP in high A, he did also have a 1.026 WHIP and a 2.31. I guess that might not meet your definition of "dominate" but most would say that a 2.31 ERA and 1.026 WHIP are pretty damn good.

      It almost sounds like you are looking for a reason to not like this trade so people can continue the bashing on Terry Ryan.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by mudcat14 View Post
      I'm really quite surprised that this is a one for one deal. Granted Meyer has oustanding upside, but also a high potential for failure having not pitched above the 'A' level. I would have expected another piece to come the Twins way in a deal like this. At least it should free up some cash to help add a short-term solution or two in the starting rotation.
      This is my thought as well. Getting one pitcher for Span, one who's probably 2 years away at least, seems to be a bigger gamble than I'd like. I might have taken a lower-ceiling pitcher who was closer to the majors and maybe a fringy infielder thrown in. So it seems that either TR and his scouts really like Meyer, or there just wasn't that much trade interest in Span.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Alex Myers the name James Shields gives himself when he wears his high heels? Otherwise, reality strikes again. In a good way I might add - a solid prospect that slots to be coming to the majors about the same time as our best young talent? Sounds like the right kind of trade to me. Now to see if it pans out.
      I don't think anyone is claiming Myers is some sorta of sure deal, but he is certainly the best pitching prospect the Twins have had since Matt Garza. (Gibson could be close if it weren't for the injury)

      When was the last time the Twins had a guy in the system who could throw 98 AND get it over the plate?
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      Nat's fans must be delighted today.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Hard to say, but a low A guy not a big name prospect seems like a low return for an everyday starting center fielder. I will have to do some research before forming an opinion. This does lower the payroll...maybe they will spend some money on a pitcher now.....I would like to see Hicks up, and not have to watch Parmalee field.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      One other thing to keep in mind was that, after coming back from injury, Span had a .300 OBP to end the year. It was a small sample size but maybe the Twins were concerned with his injuries and just decided to move before rumors started going out.
    1. StormJH1's Avatar
      StormJH1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post

      In my mind, a 22-year-old college pitcher SHOULD dominate Low A, and probably should dominate High A. He certainly didn't do the latter, with a K rate in the 7s, albeit in 39 innings. Now, maybe he was tired or something, I don't know. I'm not saying he hurt his value. I just don't think he necessarily helped it.
      Ehhh, I dunno. It was 7 games at High-A, is that really enough of a track record? Some pitchers would never post a 10.7 K/9 rate at ANY level, but that's what Meyer did at Low A. No, I don't think the guy is Gerrit Cole, but until he pitches bad at any level, I'm not even sure what the cause for concern is.

      We were not going to get an elite pitching prospect for an oft-injured CF who is only an above-average defender, has no power, and is actually a terrible baserunner for how fast he is. Obviously, the odds are against Meyer being a quality MLB'er, as they are with any prospect, but given that we don't seem to be able to stockpile these guys in any other way, I like it. Also frees up a little more money to stock the rotation for next year.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Remember that Span is no sure thing. There is real health history with him that I'm sure played into how much he was worth.
    1. minn55441's Avatar
      minn55441 -
      No inside knowledge of how all of this took place, but I would think that during the organizational meetings, they looked at the top 20 minor league pitchers throughout all of baseball and were looking to get one of them in a trade. Hopefully this guy was graded out as being pretty high on their list. I'm sure there were guys with more minor league innings on the list they were working off of, but as in most situations not all of them were available through a trade.

      I wonder how much insight we will get into the scouting and trade negotiations that lead up to this transaction. Knowing the Twins and TR, probably not much.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Hard to say, but a low A guy not a big name prospect seems like a low return for an everyday starting center fielder. I will have to do some research before forming an opinion. This does lower the payroll...maybe they will spend some money on a pitcher now.....I would like to see Hicks up, and not have to watch Parmalee field.
      "low A guy" isn't an accurate description.
      He was in high A by the end of his first pro year, and was drafted in the first round in the most talent rich draft in the past 20-25 years. This isn't some scrub who was unknown by most. He should crack quite a few top 100 lists heading into next year, I would guess at least 3 or 4 of the MiLB.com, Baseball America, Fangraphs, ESPN, BP etc
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      I don't think anyone is claiming Myers is some sorta of sure deal, but he is certainly the best pitching prospect the Twins have had since Matt Garza. (Gibson could be close if it weren't for the injury)

      When was the last time the Twins had a guy in the system who could throw 98 AND get it over the plate?
      I don't know what he'll be, I like the tone of the move. They aren't going to take a lesser talent just because it is more major league ready - they took a guy that projects to be here in about 2015.

      What I find funny is how far of a cry this is from Span for Shields. We had some rather adamant posters around here about Span's value.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      .

      It almost sounds like you are looking for a reason to not like this trade so people can continue the bashing on Terry Ryan.
      I think it's just the opposite. I'm giving TR the benefit of the doubt. He's certainly earned it on trades like this in that past. Bartlett, Liriano, Casilla, etc.

      I'm just saying that I think anyone who looks at the national ranking of Meyer is going to be disappointed. I don't see him being a top 50 guy. I'm not sure he will be a top 100 guy. I could be wrong. Like I said, this isn't my area of expertise.

      Ultimately, it doesn't matter what he's ranked. It matter what he does, and in that, I trust Ryan and Twins scouting. But I'm a little surprised they couldn't have gotten say an additional player that they also liked. (Of course, maybe they were offered a higher ranked players, but not players that they liked as much.)
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      One other thing to keep in mind was that, after coming back from injury, Span had a .300 OBP to end the year. It was a small sample size but maybe the Twins were concerned with his injuries and just decided to move before rumors started going out.
      Its a good point. Also, not to beat a dead horse, but after posting a .800 + OPS in his first two years, Span didn't reach .680 in his next two, and posted a good but not great 105 OPS+ in 2012. Prior to Revere joining the OF, Span rated as more of an above average CF then a "great"

      As far as speed goes, he has 23 SB the past two years, and probably at least 10 pick offs, at some point he simply isn't an asset on the basepaths when that is the case.

      Is he a damn solid player? Yes
      Are the Twins selling him at what will probably be his high point? Yes
      Is he a great player without question marks? no

      I think a high upside top 100 prospect who is a SP is a fine and fair price. Hell there is about an 80% chance we get more out of Meyer then we did for the whole Santana haul
    1. AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS's Avatar
      AllhopeisgoneMNTWINS -
      Like I said alot of people over valued Span, and this was probably the best offer the Twins received. So Span didnt have much trade value. The Span for Shields thing was ridiculous. I like this trade though. We obviously are going to be terrible again. People saying we got rid of more salary maybe we can go out and spend some money....newsflash....Twins just might be in salary dump mode right now.
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