The Washington Nationals have long coveted a true center fielder and leadoff hitter for nearly five seasons. That need has been completed.
The Nationals have acquired CF Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for minor league prospect Alex Meyer. the 28 year old, left handed outfielder played all five of his major league season with Minnesota. Last season, Span batted .283 with 38 doubles, 4 triples, and 4 home runs. He posted an OBS of .738. He added 17 stolen bases. In 2009 and 2010, Span hit 10 triples each season, leading the American League. His best season was in 2009 when he batted .311 with 16 doubles and 10 triples. Span is under his current contract until 2014.
Span is a career .284 batter with 105 doubles, 36 triples, 23 home runs, 230 RBI, 90 stolen bases, and 360 runs scored. in 589 big league contests spanning five seasons (2008-12) with the Twins. 96 percent of Span's at-bats in the big leagues have come while batting at the top of the Twins' batting order. Another component that makes Span a tough lead off hitter is the fact he ranked sixth in the American League by striking out only once every 9.2 plate appearances.
The addition of Span is a likely sign that Washington will allow slugging first baseman Adam LaRoche to depart via free agency. Mike Morse will make room for Span in the outfield by taking over at first base. Of course, the Nats could always resign LaRoche and move Morse via trade, although more unlikely. Instead of signing LaRoche, that could free up cash to pursue a top flight starting pitcher to join the rotation and replace Edwin Jackson.
The Nationals gave up a top arm prospect in their system. Between Low A and High A, Meyer posted a 10-6 record with a 2.86 ERA.