Is Span Deal Just The Beginning?

The Atlanta Braves found their center fielder in B.J. Upton on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Minnesota Twins wasted no more time in trading their center fielder to one of the remaining teams in the baseball marketplace looking for help at that position.

The Twins shipped Denard Span to the Washington Nationals in exchange for top pitching prospect Alex Meyer.

The surprise for me isn’t so much in the trading of Span (which has been rumored for weeks months years) as it is in what the Twins received in return.

That’s not meant to be a slight on Meyer, who has plenty of promise. However, I always thought the Twins would be seeking a major league-ready arm in exchange for Span.

Newly acquired Minnesota Twins prospect Alex Meyer pitched in the MLB Futures Game last season. Associated Press photo

That leaves me wondering if the acquisition of Meyer isn’t a sign that the Twins are thinking about, to some degree, blowing up the major league roster. After all, almost all of the team’s top prospects – Meyer included – were in A-ball last season and years away from being able to help out. The Twins’ loss total in each of the last two seasons has approached 100, and there isn’t a lot of hope that the farm system will provide any help in the next couple of seasons.

With Joe Mauer‘s massive contract still on the books, the Twins probably aren’t looking to do a Florida/Miami Marlins type of dismantling of the roster.

But could we see Josh Willingham – coming off of a career season in 2012 – get dealt at next week’s winter meetings? Is there a market for Justin Morneau? Will the Twins keep dealing for help in A-ball and Double-A with hopes of that wave of players – led by Miguel Sano, Oswaldo Arcia, Meyer and Co. – will be the ones to revive the franchise? Only time will tell.

Twins fans know all about Span and what he brought to the table. He is a reliable leadoff hitter known for taking a lot of pitches. Among major leaguers that qualify for the league lead, Span was second to Marco Scutaro in swinging strike percentage.

He is under a very reasonable contract that called for $21 million over the next three seasons (the last of those three is a $9 million club option, which in all likelihood would be picked up by the Nats when the time comes).

However, Span’s durability has suffered lately, and now he has a concussion history that clubs need to think about.

As for Meyer, he was drafted 23rd overall in the 2011 draft. The 6-foot-9 right-hander from the University of Kentucky brings a mid- to upper-90s fastball along with a slider according to reports. One post-draft assessment said that he needed work on his change-up.

In 129 innings at two levels of A-ball in the Nationals’ system, Meyer struck out 139 with an ERA of 2.86. As a 22-year-old, he would be expected to play well at that level of the minors, but FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron writes that there’s still considerable upside and plenty of risk – in this deal for the Twins. 

 For more on Meyer, you can go back to the FanGraphs’ well and check out this re-published story about him.

1 Response

  1. noblindersonme

    Some ‘fans’ in the twins cities blogs are beating up the Twins FO for not getting a ‘name’ in this trade , which is not uprising considering some fans just live to bitch and nothing will please them . I guess it fills a need in their dreary lives to think their 2 cents actually means something . ( my needs are fulfilled when I bitch at those fans and tell them to be patient and trust Ryan and those who really know what’s what).
    As for this trade and getting a big name, first we have to look and see what is available and since EVERY team wants a good pitcher I don’t understand why fans think it is so easy to get one. Check the market folks , it aint bursting with guys with strong arms . What pitchers are out there all seem to have ‘issues’, past injuries ,inconsistency , etc , it is the nature of the position. How many Verlanders are out there? None! , guys who seldom get hurt and get it done. There are far more Zitos out there , guys who had it once ,lost it (injuries) and mysteriously find it again. “Fans ‘ gave up on Zito , just like the Twins fans were about Kyle Lohse, (don’t let the screen door bang your butt as you leave Kyle, they whined). Last year both reached the highest levels again. IT’S A GAMBLE!. Look at the Phillies , the fan prototype for free spending and “big name ‘ collecting. They crashed and burned. I am sure none of these ‘fans’ will admit how wrong they were for expecting the Phills to dominate with one of the greatest group of starters EVER!
    Yes the Twins need starting pitching, I have been a Twins fan since the 60’s!!! and truthfully the pitching cupboard is the barest I ever seen. What once was a promising strong group , Liriano Baker Slowey Blackburn etc is pretty much a disaster of bad luck. Only Perkins seems to have survived and HE had reconstructive surgery too!
    Bottom line – got to have faith. The Twins will send somebody out there every day. and hopefully Diamond ( what knowitall fan predicted his sucess) will be joined by a good traded for pitcher( free agent maybe) , another organization callup ,Gibson?, and maybe a rejuvenated Blackburn ,it can happen! Look what happened to the Giants ! King of the hill Lincecum loses his mojo and is replaced by some wandering journeyman and The Giants win the Series. Sometimes Faith is all we have!

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