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  • Are Span's Days in Minnesota Numbered?

    Since he was first called up in 2008, Denard Span has been an integral cog for the Twins. He's also been a joy to watch. He plays hard, brings a great approach to the plate, offers very solid defense in center, and is good with the fans.

    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.
    This article was originally published in blog: Are Span's Days in Minnesota Numbered? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 69 Comments
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Let's hope not.

      The Twins need to be blown away with an offer for any of their 2013 assets. I would hate to see a deal like the Astros received last year for Bourn. Bourn comps better than Span so it is unlikely they will do better.

      It is very rare for a top prospect to be traded midseason for a Span level player. In hindsight, you will find all kinds of deals for players who later turned out to be great players (Carlos Santana for example). That credit goes to the team that made the trade for a player who was not a top prospect at the time. Last year Beltran, Jimenez and Pence were the only players who returned top 100 prospects in a midseason trade. I love Span, but I don't he is valued at their level by other teams.

      Do we trust the Twins scouts to be able to pick a diamond out of the vast array of middling prospects? Other than possibly Diamond, they haven't done so well lately.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      I would still rather trade Revere
    1. Obie's Avatar
      Obie -
      I agree that Span is prime trade bait for the reasons stated. However, Span isn't quite the stellar star you make him out to be. He is an average major league center fielder. His OPS is 22nd in the top forty big league center fielders. His OPS is 20th out the top forty leadoff hitters and 16th in OBP.
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Much as I would hate to see it and lose his defensive skills (I would love to see an outfield of Span, Revere & Mastroianni - nothing would fall in), I understand his value as a trade chip. But we had better get at least one player in return who is a very good bet to be starting in a couple years at most. I would be upset to see him traded for a handful of B prospects, none of whom may ever pan out.
    1. luckylager's Avatar
      luckylager -
      I would hate to see him go. He plays hard, plays well and is a class act. If he does go, we had better get some high ceiling pitching prospects in return.
    1. DPJ's Avatar
      DPJ -
      It would suck to see him go, but this is what bad teams have to do.

      Hopefully moving Span will bring back to pieces to help this rebuild go quicker. But sadly I have my doubts about the Twins identifying the right pieces in a trade.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I think the Twins are in great shape with Span. They don't have to trade him like they had to trade Santana. While some of his offensive stats might be depressed a bit by playing in Target Field, he's been worth 4.5 WAR over his last 140 games and is on pace for about 5 WAR this year. That should lead to a lot of teams being interested in him and, hopefully, a seller's market. His contract means that, unlike Pence, more teams can be in on him as well.
    1. spideyo's Avatar
      spideyo -
      I think he's more valuable to other teams than some realize. In MN, we have a lot of high-defense, high-speed outfielders. We also have a lot of (theoretically) high production left handed bats. How many other organizations have both those things? Now, left handed bats and speedy outfielders don't win us championships, but they do make Span much more replaceable.
    1. jmlease1's Avatar
      jmlease1 -
      I think Span is the Twins best trade asset right now; he's a solid MLB CF who is under contract for a couple of years at a very good price. He's proven to be a real asset at the top of the order, and the health concerns appear to be a thing of the past. He should be a very attractive to a number of teams.

      I'd hate to lose Span for all of those reasons, but for the right price he should be traded. We do have a replacement for him in CF in Ben Revere, who seems to be showing that he can hit at this level. (would I be happier if Revere got a few more walks, had a little more pop in his bat? sure, but if he can hit .320 you just roll with it.)

      But it has to be the right deal. I don't want to deal a quality MLB starter for a couple of maybe prospects sitting in A-ball. Moving Span for a couple of C prospects isn't a good use of the team's assets. There needs to be some high upside and at least one guy who's not 3 years away.

      Another $5M in payroll room wouldn't hurt; that could absorb all of the raises to guys currently under contract/control while we spend the money freed up from cutting Pavano, Baker, Liriano, & Capps loose on starting pitching (Zack Greinke to the white courtesy phone...paging Zack Greinke...)
    1. UCLA_YANKEE_COLA's Avatar
      "Do we trust the Twins scouts to be able to pick a diamond out of the vast array of middling prospects? Other than possibly Diamond, they haven't done so well lately."

      Who has though? It just doesn't happen very often for any teams, not just the Twins. Middling prospects are middling prospects because they're not great players. Sure some will make an unexpected leap but for the most part you're not trading for Travis Buck and getting Josh Hamilton. But Span will bring back more than middling prospects, I think a good defensive CF on a team friendly deal who can get on base is more valuable now than ever.
    1. ltwedt's Avatar
      ltwedt -
      Parmelee - - - in right????? ........ Like EVERYDAY?????? YIKES!!!!! Please . . . not that . . . ANYTHING but that!!!
    1. Crotalo's Avatar
      Crotalo -
      He has a team friendly deal. Unless the Twins are convinced that they won't be any good until 2015, they should keep him unless they get a ton for him. The OF guys in the minors don't appear to be ready.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Span's team friendly deal is actually part of the asset here. Last time I checked, Revere has a friendlier deal, is a better fielder, is a better runner, is 4 years younger and pretty much a wash as far as OBP goes this season (and Revere has not yet entered his prime, while Span has been there.).

      No brainer, but they have to get an MLB-ready SP, at least, in return.
    1. gmarais66's Avatar
      gmarais66 -
      I can see where there's a chance the Twins would trade Span, but I would think it would have to be an awesome deal for Ryan to move him... After all the Twins are not a terrible team... Yes, they've had horrible starting pitching this season, which is why they are in the Central cellar.... If the Twins add a two or three starting pitchers in the offseason, it would completely change the outlook for next season... Getting rid of your top players, who are signed to team-friendly contracts, doesn't make a whole lot of sense, unless you get an awesome deal...

      Replacing Revere in right with Parmelee? Really?!? Have you seen him play outfield? In a pinch he can play in right, but he has no business being out there on a daily basis...
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      I get the reasoning, but I love consistency in baseball. I would rather watch the career arch of my team's better players than root for the new guy over and over. It's totally an irrational, fan-take but I get more satisfaction out of a Span double than a Doumit HR. I hate the trade deadline. I'm sure I'm speaking for a very small minority. Or just myself.
    1. CDog's Avatar
      CDog -
      Quote Originally Posted by PopRiveter View Post
      I get the reasoning, but I love consistency in baseball. I would rather watch the career arch of my team's better players than root for the new guy over and over. It's totally an irrational, fan-take but I get more satisfaction out of a Span double than a Doumit HR. I hate the trade deadline. I'm sure I'm speaking for a very small minority. Or just myself.
      I know exactly what you mean and don't think it's that small of a minority opinion. It makes me think of the Seinfeld bit that at some point we're just cheering for laundry. I very much like the idea of building from within, staying with "our guys" at the core, and making minor changes at the fringes. That's the ideal for me, so you're not alone. We also have to understand that sometimes there are situations that dictate a move that doesn't go along with that idea. Sometimes it's hard to like, but we move on.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      What team has ever added 2-3 starting pitchers, that are good enough to win divisions, in 1 year?
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Usually the Twins trade their players in the 5th year of the service with the club. The exception being the players for whatever reason they don't personally like. Lohse, Young and Garza come to mind. The offer would have to be so far in the Twins favor to make a trade that I can't see it happening. The whole details of the proposed trade last year to Washington were never leaked. Storen for Span straight up was not going to happen, look up Seth Stohs story for the details. They still stand.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Span is one of my favorite players. I don't believe that Revere's play is the reason to trade Span. I would love to see Span and Revere in the same outfield for a long time. I do not want to lose Denard at all. He can play for me anyday.

      However... This team needs pitching and needs it in the worse way. It isn't a question of picking up 5 guys who can throw for a rotation... You need 8 or 9 guys who can throw for your rotation because pitchers get hurt alot... Right now... The Twins have what... 2 maybe 3 arms that they can throw next year. They will need 6 more... If a Span trade happens... I know that pitching is why it happened and I will have supported the move but I will still feel sick about it.

      Kudo's to Nick Nelson for his piece. It's hard to advocate the trading of one of the guys you really like. It's takes sensibility and balls. It makes you feel that Nick is worth reading because he is balanced.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Denard Span's skills could help some team score a lot of runs. He's one of the league's best lead-off hitters, has great speed in the outfield, steals bases and is a smart player. As others have observed, his real value will be as a right fielder on a team that already has a great CF, like the Yankees. Imagine a Span - Granderson one-two punch in that lineup, and then imagine the ground those two would cover on defense. Either one of them could bat first, and you'd still have a pitcher's nightmare.

      Span is a good CF, but from that position he doesn't get his shoulders turned enough to generate a powerful throw. From right field it's a different story. From there, he gets natural shoulder turn from having the bases to his right while reaching half the time to the left side of his body, where the glove in his right hand forces him to turn sideways. The result is a more powerful throw to second or third base. Combined with his great speed and smart positioning, this improvement in his throwing makes Span an All-Star caliber right fielder with an MLB average arm, good enough to gun down all but the fastest guys making the turn around first.

      It's kind of sad, because on the lowly Twins Denard Span will be stuck in center, where he really is their best option. Revere still doesn't have the arm to do much out there, while the minor league guys are still mostly a couple years away.

      Tell you what though: In a few years, with Benson, Hicks, Arcia and a few other guys up, this team will be loaded with fast OF's with serious guns for arms. With those prospects coming up, I can see why the Twins might be willing to deal Denard Span for a good pitching prospect or three. Especially in a year where it just. isn't. going. to. matter.
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