• The Case For Trading Span

    We're approaching the time when a long-time Twins player is going to be traded away. It will likely be Denard Span.Is Span's time with the Twins almost over?

    In our interview for the 2013 Offseason Handbook, Terry Ryan was careful, but stated the obvious. When talking about Chris Parmelee being a regular, Ryan admitted "We're going to try and fit [Chris Parmelee] in there somewhere, without tipping my hand too far."

    Fitting Parmelee into the lineup as a regular means playing him at first base or in right field. That means moving one of four regulars: Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, Ben Revere or Span. It's likely none are off the table, but Span is the most likely to be moved, not for any one reason, but for lots of little reasons, some of which are contradictory.

    He's valuable.
    Center fielders that can get on base, have a little power, occasionally steal and play above average center field don't grow on trees. There is a reason that Span's name has been bandied about by the Nationals and Red at the trade deadline the last two years: he's a commodity. In fact, for those attached to the more advanced sabrmetric stats, WAR (Wins Above Replacement) pegged Span as the most valuable Minnesota Twin last year - above Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham.

    He's replaceable.
    The Twins find themselves desperately short of pitching and middle infielders from the majors down through the minors. But this organization can sure develop center fielders. Twins fans know that Revere could step into center field for Span right now and probably improve the defense. And one-level below him is toolsy first round pick Aaron Hicks, who is going to be better defensively than either of them, and probably better offensively, too. And Twins fans have also already been introduced to Joe Benson, who can also hold down the position.

    He's becoming expensive.
    Span will make over $10M over the next two years of his contract. The Twins have limited funds after two straight years of declining attendance. That is $10M that could (and probably should) be used on pitching.

    He's not that expensive.
    There are going to be several free agent center fielders available this year - BJ Upton, Michael Bourn, Angel Pagan, Shane Victorino - but they're all going to cost a pretty penny. A 2 year/$10M commitment to Span is going to look like a bargain comparatively.

    There will be openings.
    While the free agents above will be snapped up by the highest bidder, their former teams are going to be looking for replacements. The Rays are going to lose Upton and don't have a great replacement for him; they also have been heavily rumored to be shopping some of their better pitchers, like James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson.

    Similarly, the Braves will likely lose Michael Bourn and they also have few centerfielders in their farm system. In our 2013 Offseason Handbook, thereís a whole essay on why it makes sense to trade with the Brave by Ben Chase. In it, he lays out the assets the Braves would consider trading, in order:

    "The Braves would probably trade their eight starters in the following order (most likely to least likely): Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson, Paul Maholm, Randall Delgado, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Tim Hudson, and Kris Medlen. They've also got Brandon Beachy coming back midseason from Tommy John surgery and Sean Gilmartin knocking on the door in AAA."

    Chase admits the last half of that list is off the table for Span, but several of the first couple names are in play, and each would provide an affordable upgrade to the Twins rotation.

    Usually, when fans suggest a player should be traded, it's because they don't like him. Span, on the other hand, is well-regarded and maybe even undervalued. But a combination of traits - value, affordability, replacability and opportunity - make him the most likely player to be traded. And with the MLB General Manage meetings happening this weekend, it could happen sooner rather than later.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Case For Trading Span started by John Bonnes
    Comments 26 Comments
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      No brainer. You have to give up something to get something, and their only possible excess is outfielders.
    1. minn55441's Avatar
      minn55441 -
      How shocked would we all be to see the Hammer traded instead?

      I agree we have to trade value to get value. Are more teams looking for defense and a lead off hitter or power from a corner outfield position? I think it is obvious that we have more and better replacements for Spans skills, but what is more valued by the teams we will be potentially trading with?

      Again, I want to see us trade our way into some quality pitching, however in my view it is more likely that Span will improve on his 2012 totals at the plate then Willingham. I feel that Span will continue to improve his numbers as he distances himself from his concussion. I think we just saw the best Willingham has to offer this past season. It still is a tough call when you take into account that we can not replace Willingham's power and the impact that it had last season when he batted between Mauer and Morneau.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I agree on Willingham, but I think most teams do also....
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      We lost 99 and 96 games the last 2 seasons. Everyone should be on the table, a couple minor moves will not fix this team.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      I believe that Morneau will also be dealt. Starting pitching is a requirement--and the Twins need it! There are also plenty of other options for 1B besides Morneau.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Nice article, lot of good points, but I don't think Revere would improve our defense in CF over Span...I also don't believe the team will use the saved money after trading him, assuming there is any saved money, on pitching. We knocked 18M off the 2011 payroll for 2012 and didn't address pitching...
    1. ltwedt's Avatar
      ltwedt -
      Yeah - well . . . so far TR has been sitting on his hands. I am at the point that I really don't care WHO - obviously someone(s) has to - but please, please, please - don't shock us all by once again making a trade that is based on someone who is coming off the dl, or just had TJ, or "used to be good and would make the front office look good if we could resurrect his career". Get someone that will actually help.

      Oh - and please look at FA starting pitchers - there are some really good ones that can be had (Edwin Jackson comes to mind).
    1. BeefMaster's Avatar
      BeefMaster -
      One thing that makes me skittish about trading Span:

      Usually, when fans suggest a player should be traded, it's because they don't like him. Span, on the other hand, is well-regarded and maybe even undervalued.
      If you're going to trade an asset as valuable as Span, you need to make sure you're getting proper value in return for him. If they're looking at good-field-no-hit middle infielders or back-of-the-rotation starters, I'd just as soon hold onto him and deal Revere (who teams may value higher as a player on the rise, as much as I'd hate to see him go) or see if you can get someone to overvalue Morneau instead.
    1. mnfanforlife's Avatar
      mnfanforlife -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Nice article, lot of good points, but I don't think Revere would improve our defense in CF over Span...I also don't believe the team will use the saved money after trading him, assuming there is any saved money, on pitching. We knocked 18M off the 2011 payroll for 2012 and didn't address pitching...
      Yes, the front office has not been savvy the last two off-seasons...but they still should trade Span and hopefully they will use the excess money on pitching unlike last year. I think Rever would serve admirably in CF replacing Span. He may not be as good as Span defensiely, but will definitely fill the lead-off hitter/CF role well for the MLB club. Revere may be the next guy traded as Hicks should be up by the end of 2013...unless the MLB is actually winning that is.
    1. mk's Avatar
      mk -
      Aquiring good starting pitching for 2013 and the future is priority #1, but I'm scared that Span's likely successor in CF and the lead-off spot has a career .319 OBP. I think that is the biggest case against trading Span.
    1. twinscowboysbulls's Avatar
      twinscowboysbulls -
      The Twins should not be afraid to trade any major leaguers named Willingham, Morneau, Span, Parmelee.
    1. Dave T's Avatar
      Dave T -
      Why would any of Atlanta's top four starters be off-limits for Span? If we trade an above-average CF, we should get back an above-average pitcher. Don't be giving us your 6th or 7th starters.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      I think trading Span is a given too and he is one of my favorite Twins players. It makes too much sense and there are too many teams that could use him and 2 of them are near or at Tampa who could probably resign him to an extension once they have him.

      I think at this point we are waiting for teams to shop around on both sides by feeling out the best proposals before making a decision and moving on them.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      We lost 99 and 96 games the last 2 seasons. Everyone should be on the table, a couple minor moves will not fix this team.
      I wouldn't worry about it. See, at that rate, in 32 years, the Twins will be undefeated. 2044 Twins, baby!
    1. Chris in Osaka's Avatar
      Chris in Osaka -
      The Rays are too smart to trade Shields for Span. I'm afraid that they will fleece the team out of a top prospect.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by mk View Post
      Aquiring good starting pitching for 2013 and the future is priority #1, but I'm scared that Span's likely successor in CF and the lead-off spot has a career .319 OBP. I think that is the biggest case against trading Span.
      There is an easy fix to this. Due to Revere's extreme contact proficiency,it is more beneficial for him to simply stop swinging when he gets ahead in the count, and avoid terminating his at-bat prematurely by putting a ball in play. Specifically if he avoided swinging on all 2-0, 3-0, and 3-1 counts, I believe he could raise his OBP .040 or .050 points or more overnight. I made some rough calculations to arrive at that conclusion here:
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      I don't think there are many comps of trading an outfielder for a starting pitcher unless the outfielder is relatively better at his position or a starting pitching prospect is included.

      Lots of teams lost a starting pitcher to free agency and are in the market for a pitcher. I fear they will have the prospects and depth to top the Twins offer of Span.
    1. Chris in Osaka's Avatar
      Chris in Osaka -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by mk View Post
      Aquiring good starting pitching for 2013 and the future is priority #1, but I'm scared that Span's likely successor in CF and the lead-off spot has a career .319 OBP. I think that is the biggest case against trading Span.
      There is an easy fix to this. Due to Revere's extreme contact proficiency,it is more beneficial for him to simply stop swinging when he gets ahead in the count, and avoid terminating his at-bat prematurely by putting a ball in play. Specifically if he avoided swinging on all 2-0, 3-0, and 3-1 counts, I believe he could raise his OBP .040 or .050 points or more overnight. I made some rough calculations to arrive at that conclusion here:
      How many such counts did he have? Since he has no power, I can't believe he was able to build too many such hitter-friendly counts.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by mk View Post
      Aquiring good starting pitching for 2013 and the future is priority #1, but I'm scared that Span's likely successor in CF and the lead-off spot has a career .319 OBP. I think that is the biggest case against trading Span.
      There is an easy fix to this. Due to Revere's extreme contact proficiency,it is more beneficial for him to simply stop swinging when he gets ahead in the count, and avoid terminating his at-bat prematurely by putting a ball in play. Specifically if he avoided swinging on all 2-0, 3-0, and 3-1 counts, I believe he could raise his OBP .040 or .050 points or more overnight. I made some rough calculations to arrive at that conclusion here:
      Except that he rakes (singles) on these counts and builds his Bavg significantly. Taking on these pitches would force him to get his hits with 2 strikes--a difficult task.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by jorgenswest View Post
      I don't think there are many comps of trading an outfielder for a starting pitcher unless the outfielder is relatively better at his position or a starting pitching prospect is included.

      Lots of teams lost a starting pitcher to free agency and are in the market for a pitcher. I fear they will have the prospects and depth to top the Twins offer of Span.
      Apparently you are unaware of the previous trade with Tampa when A Twins SP wasn't adequate for an OF--which is true. OF play every game, pitchers one in five.
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