Grade That Trade! Span Goes to D.C. Edition

Denard Span, newest member of the Nationals.

After a relatively quiet stretch of time in baseball, we finally had a flurry of deals this week. B.J. Upton went to Atlanta and Russell Martin went to Pittsburgh for way too much money.

But there is a good bargain in the mix, as the Washington Nationals traded for Denard Span, sending minor league pitcher Alex Meyer to Minnesota as collateral.

Span became a hot commodity (and an expendable one at that) last season when Ben Revere replaced him after an injury and played very well down the stretch.

Meyer is one of those can’t-miss starting pitching prospects that will ultimately change the entire face of the Twins’ rotation as long as he stays healthy.

It’s a pretty good deal for both sides on the surface, but let’s break it down a little bit:

Twins Get:

SP Alex Meyer (Single-A)

Nationals Get:

CF Denard Span

Let’s start with the Nats’ new speedster, Span. He is fantastic on the base paths, covers a lot of ground and gets on base at a decent clip. He will be a great top-of-the-order hitter for Washington, who has been looking for a full-time center fielder for half a decade.

This move allows Bryce Harper to move to left field and Michael Morse to be traded or put at first in the event that Adam LaRoche signs elsewhere.

Last season, Span hit .284 in 128 games before going down with a strained collarbone. He has hardly any pop, but is most valuable for being a prototypical speedster; good defense, smart base running, and hell on opposing pitchers’ minds.

For the Nationals, this gives them a legitimate speed threat at the top of the order and a regular center fielder at the position. And it doesn’t hurt to have another good, Major League bat in the lineup.

In return, Washington sent a very promising, hard-throwing right-handed starter to Minnesota, who is sorely in need of starting pitching. Even though Span is on a very cheap contract for someone of his talent, the Twins are very limited in the payroll department, and feel comfortable with Revere in center.

That being said, they get a player with a much higher ceiling and a lower price tag who can potential be a front of the rotation starter in a couple of years.

If the San Francisco Giants have taught us anything over the past few years, it’s that strong pitching paves the way to titles. The Twins seem to be aiming to build a strong pitching staff around an already-decent lineup. If they add a good free agent arm and continue to acquire and develop quality young pitching, they might be a surprise contender (again) by 2014.

Top prospect Alex Meyer goes to Minnesota.

Just to shed a little more light on the prospect Meyer, he went 10-6 with a 2.86 ERA between two minor league stops last season. He is 6’9″ and has good command with his 97 MPH fastball and hard slider. His change-up could use a little work, but overall, Meyer will likely always approach double digits in K per 9.

I’m impressed with the potential Meyer possesses, but it’s still just potential. The former first-round pick out of the University of Kentucky (23rd overall in 2011) was ranked as the 50th-best prospect in all of baseball this year, and at the ripe age of 23 (on Opening Day 2013), he will be an exciting member of the Twins organization.

Overall, this is a close one, but I’ll give the slight edge to Washington because they are already playoff contenders and added a much-needed piece to the club. Minnesota made a great move in building up their farm system for the rebuilding, but you never know how the health of a young flamethrower will hold up.

How would you grade this trade for the Twins and Nationals? Vote below!

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- Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

3 Comments

Going to a ton of Nationals batting practices last year, I saw Michael Morse taking groundballs at second base, so… we’ll see what happens next year. I couldn’t understand it with their then-current set-up, but it looks a little more feasible now that this trade has happened.
-Mateo

http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

That’s really interesting. Imagining someone the size of Morse manning second base makes me laugh, but if he’s athletic enough to do that without sacrificing defense, he would be the most dangerous utility player in baseball. I have a feeling LaRoche will come back and Morse will be traded.

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