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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kilgore: Nationals acquire Denard Span for Alex Meyer

Meyer is a real prospect, Span is a good player.  That’s how trades work.

The Nationals ended their long-standing search for a center fielder and leadoff hitter at the high cost of their top pitching prospect, acquiring Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins for right-handed flamethrower Alex Meyer.

The deal sets up the rest of their offseason, with the Nationals now more likely to move on from free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche while moving Michael Morse to first base and Bryce Harper to a corner outfield spot.  Span is signed through the 2014 season, which gives the Nationals more flexibility in center field going forward than they would have had they signed a free agent such as Michael Bourn.

Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 29, 2012 at 05:58 PM | 48 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: denard span, minor leagues, nationals, trades, transactions, twins

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   1. Dan Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:09 PM (#4312780)
There goes Adam LaRoche's leverage.
   2. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:12 PM (#4312785)
Span is signed through the 2014 season, which gives the Nationals more flexibility in center field going forward than they would have had they signed a free agent such as Michael Bourn.


This hole in the bottom of our submarine allows us to submerge much more rapidly!
   3. WillYoung Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:15 PM (#4312790)
D-SPAN2 is a really, really fun player and I'll miss him. Wish the Twins could have picked up much more in reserve. My top D-SPAN2 memory will always be the triple in the eighth inning of 2008 when Ozzie didn't have Konerko guarding the line.

Can't wait to see Ben Revere tap out weakly to the pitcher four times a game. Hicks/Arcia/et al. better get their games moving quickly.
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:16 PM (#4312793)

This hole in the bottom of our submarine allows us to submerge much more rapidly!


Don't get it. Span is a fine player (career 105 wRC+, with very good D in CF) signed to a 2/11.25 contract with a $9M option for 2014. That a very nice acquisition.
   5. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:26 PM (#4312800)
You're right - he is a good player. Which is why trying to spin the fact that he's only under control for two years as a positive is so insultingly dumb.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:27 PM (#4312801)
You're right - he is a good player. Which is why trying to spin the fact that he's only under control for two years as a positive is so insultingly dumb.

Three years. I'd much rather have Span for 3/20, than Upton for 5/75. And, there's nothing saying they can't extend Span.
   7. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:28 PM (#4312803)
Don't get it. Span is a fine player (career 105 wRC+, with very good D in CF) signed to a 2/11.25 contract with a $9M option for 2014. That a very nice acquisition.

I didn't read [2] as a critique of acquiring Span, so much as the Kilgore's logic -- the Nationals were looking at Span/Bourn to fill a hole in CF (well, move Harper off anyway), so it's kinda weird touting the fact that the hole could open up again as early as 2014 as a positive.

EDIT: I'll defer to Vlad.
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:31 PM (#4312806)
You're right - he is a good player. Which is why trying to spin the fact that he's only under control for two years as a positive is so insultingly dumb.
Span's a nice player, but I don't think that failing to lock down his age 32 season four years ahead of time counts as a particular negative. With the large majority of players, signing them to shorter contracts is better for the club.
   9. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:38 PM (#4312810)
The more center field holes that are filled, the more I am curious where Angel Pagan ends up. There's been a lot of discussion about Bourn and Victorino, but I've heard much less about Pagan.
   10. Depressoteric Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4312822)
Count me as very surprised -- VERY surprised -- that they're moving Harper off centerfield. Hell, I literally wrote just yesterday in the comments to another thread that Harper was going to be their long-term CF. Oops.

Incidentally, the defensive downgrade of moving from LaRoche at 1B to Morse is massive, and not something to underestimate. LaRoche's greatest contribution to the Nationals during the 2012 season wasn't his bat, IMO, it was his glove.
   11. Willie Mayspedes Posted: November 29, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4312823)
Wow this came out of center field!
   12. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: November 29, 2012 at 07:02 PM (#4312830)
Count me as very surprised -- VERY surprised -- that they're moving Harper off centerfield.
Bryce Harper plays centerfield like a converted catcher who has good speed.
   13. Bitter Mouse Posted: November 29, 2012 at 07:06 PM (#4312834)
As a twins fan I approve. And I think the National Fans will also like it. Win-win.
   14. Depressoteric Posted: November 29, 2012 at 07:22 PM (#4312843)
Bryce Harper plays centerfield like a converted catcher who has good speed.
No, as someone who watched pretty much every Nats game last season, he plays centerfield like a 19-year-old kid with immense natural physical gifts and an ability to learn quickly...but with no prior experience. Harper has the raw tools, and the determination, to have turned himself into a sterling CF. Would've liked to see it happen. But I'm not going to argue with the idea of Denard Span patrolling center with a very reasonable pricetag, either.

Honestly, if anything I'm surprised that the Nats were able to land Span for such a low price. Alex Meyer has a lot of potential, don't get me wrong, but at the end of the day he's still a Single-A lottery ticket.
   15. Gamingboy Posted: November 29, 2012 at 07:28 PM (#4312847)
   16. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: November 29, 2012 at 07:31 PM (#4312848)
as a phillies fan, this is a really great move for us. reasons:

1, over the last 3 years, span has had a 95 OPS+, and he'll be replacing one of jayson werth (125 OPS+ last year), mike morse (112 OPS+ last year) or adam laroche (128 OPS+ last year). whichever one of them he does replace (most likely adam laroche), that's a very likely downgrade for their offense.

2, this takes WAS out of the market for another OFer, which in combination with ATL's signing of bj upton, means that there's not likely to be any intra-division free agency bidding war for any of the remaining Cfs.

and 3, the nationals gave up their best pitching prospect to make it happen.


i don't know that this makes WAS more vulnerable, but it does seem like a move they could regret sometime in the near future.
   17. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: November 29, 2012 at 07:35 PM (#4312849)
I seem to be the only one here who likes this better for the Twins than for the Nats. Span is a nice player, but Meyer seems to have a lot of upside and the Twins did pretty well in cashing in on Span. Also I don't see why the Nats were so anxious to get Harper out of CF. He seemed to do a pretty good job considering he'd never played there before and as Esoteric says, he had the tools to succeed. If they didn't want Moore in the lineup, they could have gotten someone like Eric Chavez or Kevin Youkilis for 1B. Also I think Moore could do just fine as the starting LF or 1B.
   18. The District Attorney Posted: November 29, 2012 at 07:48 PM (#4312855)
Bryce Harper plays centerfield like a converted catcher who has good speed.
Could be worse.
   19. KT's Pot Arb Posted: November 29, 2012 at 08:17 PM (#4312865)
1, over the last 3 years, span has had a 95 OPS+, and he'll be replacing one of jayson werth (125 OPS+ last year), mike morse (112 OPS+ last year) or adam laroche (128 OPS+ last year). whichever one of them he does replace (most likely adam laroche), that's a very likely downgrade for their offense.


Despite that OPS+, and despite missing over 100 games during those three years, Denard put up nearly 9 WAR.

Replacing either Werth or Morse in the field with Harper is a big defensive upgrade, ESP. In that park.

Tyler Moore shouldn't hit much worse than LaRoche, and probably will hit better. His defensive shortcomings will be offset by that super outfield.

Spans career OPS+ is 104 in the tougher league, and Bryce Harper will be 20 years old after putting up 5 WAR as a 19 year old.

If I was a Phillies fan, I wouldn't worry, cause I would have had low expectations for next years Phillies team anyways, so this just makes it official.
   20. depletion Posted: November 29, 2012 at 08:40 PM (#4312876)
Career OPS+: Span 104, B.J. Upton 105.
One number isn't the whole story, of course, but this reinforces my feeling that Upton's contract was an overpay.
Harper can play CF when Span needs a day off. It reduces the pressure and wear-and-tear on Harper if he plays a corner OF.
   21. eddieot Posted: November 29, 2012 at 09:04 PM (#4312897)
I'm a Phils fan and I think the Nats made a nice move here. Span is such a plus on defense and cheap enough that now they can resign LaRoche and maybe move Morse for an above average 5th starter or stud reliever. For a team with their starting pitching and a CF as good as Span, who also fills the leadoff role, this is a win-win for both teams.

Your move Ruben...
   22. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: November 29, 2012 at 09:10 PM (#4312903)
Despite that OPS+, and despite missing over 100 games during those three years, Denard put up nearly 9 WAR.
it's smoke. just looking at B-ref, the difference between span's defense as rated by total zone and as rated by defensive runs saved is 3 wins -- -11 v. +20. i'd be willing to admit that span is almost undoubtedly closer to the +20 than the -10, but i'll also note that the +20 was an outlier when compared to his career performance, and also that he very likely benefited statistically by playing next to josh willingham.
Tyler Moore shouldn't hit much worse than LaRoche, and probably will hit better. His defensive shortcomings will be offset by that super outfield.
but that's not what's important. the measuring stick right now isn't whether moore will be better than laroche this year, but rather whether moore will be better than laroche was last year. and i think that's a bar that he is not very likely to clear.
Spans career OPS+ is 104 in the tougher league
that's overrated. very overrated. firstly, span was in the AL central, which is not exactly a murderers' row of pitching.

but secondly, the difference between the leagues is mostly due to the presence of the designated hitter in AL, but that doesn't effect span's performance at the plate in any way whatsoever. for a pitcher, there's a huge difference between facing 8 hitters and a pitcher v. 8 hitters and a DH, but for a hitter, it's all the same. whether he's in the AL or the NL, it's him vs. the pitcher.
   23. SG Posted: November 29, 2012 at 09:55 PM (#4312950)
but secondly, the difference between the leagues is mostly due to the presence of the designated hitter in AL, but that doesn't effect span's performance at the plate in any way whatsoever. for a pitcher, there's a huge difference between facing 8 hitters and a pitcher v. 8 hitters and a DH, but for a hitter, it's all the same. whether he's in the AL or the NL, it's him vs. the pitcher.


Yeah, this is pretty much completely wrong. The difference in the leagues is mostly due to the AL having better players. Just check the numbers of hitters who have switched leagues. OPS has improved by about .040 collectively when an AL player has moved to the NL over the last four years.

edit: Well, I should say that the collective OPS of players who've played in both leagues in the same season over the past four years is .700 in the AL and .740 in the NL. Not the most rigorous evidence, but evidence nonetheless.
   24. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: November 29, 2012 at 10:05 PM (#4312963)
i think the nationals made a really good deal for themselves

that's all
   25. WillYoung Posted: November 29, 2012 at 10:57 PM (#4313006)
It's weird to see Span praised as this huge plus on defense and it makes me wonder a little about his numbers. He has decent range in CF (but had phenomenal range in the corners when Gomez was around), but never seemed that spectacular. I would put him a little above-average, but by no means elite (Revere, for example, has much better range). Plus, he has a maddening ability to take the wrong route a little too often for a player with his experience. His arm is accurate, but not particularly strong.

One thing that may boost his numbers is that Revere can cover a lot of ground in the corners allowing Span to cover a little more ground in the opposite gap. Being paired next to _elm_n and Willingham the last few years has also allowed him to catch a few more flyballs than other centerfielders just because those two have so little range.

Anyway, just wondering about his numbers a little...
   26. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: November 29, 2012 at 11:10 PM (#4313013)
Yeah, this is pretty much completely wrong. The difference in the leagues is mostly due to the AL having better players. Just check the numbers of hitters who have switched leagues. OPS has improved by about .040 collectively when an AL player has moved to the NL over the last four years.

edit: Well, I should say that the collective OPS of players who've played in both leagues in the same season over the past four years is .700 in the AL and .740 in the NL. Not the most rigorous evidence, but evidence nonetheless.
link? i have some thoughts, but without being able to look through the data, i'd just be pissing in the wind.


   27. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 29, 2012 at 11:53 PM (#4313038)
Good move for the Nationals, at least on paper. They aren't coming back to the pack in 2013.
   28. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 29, 2012 at 11:56 PM (#4313039)
I think this is a good deal for both teams. Meyer's exactly the type of pitcher the Twins don't have - someone with front-of-the-rotation potential - and while it might have been nice for them to get a lesser prospect as well for Span, the Twins dealt from a position where they have a surplus (with Revere there and Hicks/Arcia not that far away) to fill a huge hole. The Nationals, meanwhile, get a guy who more than capably fills a need without breaking the bank to do so.

-- MWE

   29. SteveM. Posted: November 30, 2012 at 12:17 AM (#4313047)
link? i have some thoughts, but without being able to look through the data, i'd just be pissing in the wind.


Pissin' in the wind, bettin' on a losing friend
Makin' the same mistakes, we swore we'd never make again
And we're pissin' in the wind, but it's blowing on all our friends
We're gonna sit and grin and tell our grandchildren

   30. SG Posted: November 30, 2012 at 12:18 AM (#4313049)
link? i have some thoughts, but without being able to look through the data, i'd just be pissing in the wind.


I misremembered the numbers, it was on a spreadsheet I'd done. The actual gap from 2009-2012 is less than half of what I thought. For players that played in both leagues in the same season it's:

In the AL: .243/.302/.328, .630
In the NL: .247/.315/.331, .647

Here's a link to a Google Doc with the data.

2009-2012batting_bothleagues.xls

I haven't accounted for mismatched playing time or parks or anything else, so I don't know how much this really tells us.
   31. Poulanc Posted: November 30, 2012 at 12:23 AM (#4313055)
In a vacuum it might be a good deal for the Twins, but I think it's horrible. The Twins are completely wasting Joe Mauer's prime seasons. This trade tells me that the Twins aren't interested in competing until 2015. Mauer will be 32 by then.


You got a new stadium - spend some cash, try to win now, and rebuild later.
   32. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: November 30, 2012 at 12:57 AM (#4313076)
Man...I dunno here. I guess tinstaap. Also hopefully this means they don't sign Bourne
   33. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: November 30, 2012 at 02:04 AM (#4313100)
2009-2012batting_bothleagues.xls
access denied....
In the AL: .243/.302/.328, .630
In the NL: .247/.315/.331, .647
that still does not look right. league OPS has been something like .720 over that time period and those numbers look way too low.
   34. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: November 30, 2012 at 02:05 AM (#4313101)
Upton to Atlanta, D-Span to Washington...the places to land for Bourn are dwindling. Will he run out of fuel???
   35. eddieot Posted: November 30, 2012 at 08:45 AM (#4313154)
Upton to Atlanta, D-Span to Washington...the places to land for Bourn are dwindling. Will he run out of fuel???


Here comes the classic overpay by Amaro. Bank on it...
   36. Rants Mulliniks Posted: November 30, 2012 at 09:17 AM (#4313168)
D-SPAN2 is a really, really fun player and I'll miss him.


Span is one of those players who looks way better during the game when you're watching him, than after the game when you look at the boxscore.
   37. Sean Forman Posted: November 30, 2012 at 10:16 AM (#4313193)
I haven't accounted for mismatched playing time or parks or anything else, so I don't know how much this really tells us.


Not much if that's the case. You really have to take someone with 500PA's in the AL and 50 in the NL into account. I think the way to do it would be to look for guys with 100PA's in both leagues and then do an unweighted average of their league differences. I did that a while back when Manny tore up the NL and it was a really big difference.

Probably the super best way is to regress them somehow, but I suspect it's not worth th ework.
   38. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: November 30, 2012 at 10:40 AM (#4313216)
This deal seems fair. Meyer has great stuff, but of course, the caveats remain about keeping his mechanics together at his size, and that his delivery is odd, which might actually be a plus in the end I suppose. You also have to figure that if the Nats have him, there'd be a year off for TJ surgery involved at some point.

There's no guarantee LaRoche will re-sign, but if he doesn't they'll at least have a chance to draft Meyer's replacement in a way. I figured Harper could handle center too, and that this particular need was overstated, but Morse is only there for one year and not really the "athletic" type that Rizzo wants. Neither is Moore, really, and the closest guy you'll maybe need room for is Rendon the infielder. I don't consider Goodwin a guy you worry about blocking - I don't think he's reached that status. It's not so much the deal's price, but it now seems that all their best pitching prospects are coming off of injuries now. For 2013-5, the Nats get a similar, cheaper version of Upton or Bourn, and it cost them their 2011 pick instead of the 2013 pick.
   39. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: November 30, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4313239)
In other DC sports news, the normally PR-challenged Redskins are paying Metro to stay open late on Monday night.
   40. WillYoung Posted: November 30, 2012 at 11:56 AM (#4313312)
This deal seems fair. Meyer has great stuff, but of course, the caveats remain about keeping his mechanics together at his size, and that his delivery is odd, which might actually be a plus in the end I suppose. You also have to figure that if the Nats have him, there'd be a year off for TJ surgery involved at some point.


As opposed to the Twins, who will require him to shut down for three months, come back and pitch ineffectively for one week, get two more opinions, and then finally decide to have TJ surgery which then creates a two-year black hole rather than just one.
   41. SG Posted: November 30, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4313330)
that still does not look right. league OPS has been something like .720 over that time period and those numbers look way too low.


Figure the players switching leagues will be worse than the average player or their teams would be more likely to keep them. Not sure why the spreadsheet is not accessible but I'll see if I can fix it.

Not much if that's the case. You really have to take someone with 500PA's in the AL and 50 in the NL into account. I think the way to do it would be to look for guys with 100PA's in both leagues and then do an unweighted average of their league differences.


Agreed. I'll muck around with a better way to do it.
   42. JJ1986 Posted: November 30, 2012 at 12:24 PM (#4313338)
The way I've seen is that you weight based on the lower number of PAs, so someone with 1 in the AL and 500 in the NL gets a weight of 1, while someone with 250 PAs in each gets a weight of 250.

You also really need to consider park factors since every one of these players is switching teams.
   43. SG Posted: November 30, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4313340)
OK, if I use matched PA (take the smaller of the two PA for the player and pro-rate their stats in both leagues to those PA) I get:

In the AL: .238/.296/.370, .666 OPS
In the NL: .247/.316/.381, .698 OPS

And this link should work now: 2009-2012batting_bothleagues.xls
   44. Bitter Mouse Posted: November 30, 2012 at 12:27 PM (#4313342)
As opposed to the Twins, who will require him to shut down for three months, come back and pitch ineffectively for one week, get two more opinions, and then finally decide to have TJ surgery which then creates a two-year black hole rather than just one.


Your words hurt. Because they are true. sob
   45. DL from MN Posted: November 30, 2012 at 01:40 PM (#4313431)
One thing to watch with Denard - he gets picked off first base way too often. Otherwise I like everything about his game.
   46. Bug Selig Posted: November 30, 2012 at 09:01 PM (#4313837)
the measuring stick right now isn't whether moore will be better than laroche this year, but rather whether moore will be better than laroche was last year.


What? How many games is 2012 Adam LaRoche going to win for the 2013 Nationals? Isn't what they are going to have vs. what they could have had the only comparison?

Hell, Mike Rizzo told us 2012 didn't matter - during 2012.
   47. Dan Posted: December 01, 2012 at 12:51 AM (#4313903)
So in addition to trading for Span in place of signing Upton or Bourne, the Nats have now nontendered Flores and Lannan and Gorzelanny. Looks to me like a team that's cutting unnecessary payroll to clear room for a big offer to Greinke.
   48. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: December 01, 2012 at 02:04 AM (#4313930)
What? How many games is 2012 Adam LaRoche going to win for the 2013 Nationals? Isn't what they are going to have vs. what they could have had the only comparison?
if the nationals play as well as they played last year, noone (including the phillies) will challenge them in the NL east. therefore, the measuring stick for their offseason should not be whether they are better than their opposition, but whether they are as good as or better than they were last year.


denard span could very well be a better player than adam laroche this year, but if he isn't as good as laroche (or whoever else he replaces in WAS's lineup) was last year, that's a downgrade, and for now, that's what is important.

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