Last year in Twins Territory, Denard Span was the hot topic as the trade deadline approached, much to Span’s dismay. This year, we’ve read that the Nationals are still interested in Span. They certainly should be, given their stopgap centerfield solution, Rick Ankiel, is hitting just .221.
But they likely aren’t going to be alone. Span plays a premier defensive position competently, but more importantly he gets on base as a leadoff hitter. One can bet a few of the below teams will at least be calling at the trade deadline this year.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have a pretty fair centerfielder already, though Matt Kemp is out with a hamstring injury for at least a few weeks. What they don’t have is a leadoff hitter who doesn’t induce nausea. That job was speedster Dee Gordon’s to start the year, but he’s posted a .275 OBP, so they have turned it over to Tony Gwynn Jr. while he fills in for Kemp.
Whether or not they need Span depends on whether you think Bobby Abreu, who was dropped by the Angels but has a 900+ OPS for the Dodgers in limited time, will turn back into a pumpkin. If Kemp stays out, Span can fill in for him. If Abreu grows old again, Span can play left field while leading off and Abreu comes off the bench. So stay tuned….
Dodgers Top Prospects per BaseballProspectus.com
Zach Lee – RHP – 4 stars
Nathan Eovaldi – RHP – 3 stars
Allen Webster – RHP – 3 stars
Like the Dodgers, the Orioles also have a center fielder having an MVP caliber year. But the Orioles also have big problems at their leadoff spot, with a combined OBP of just .253. Most of that can be blamed on Endy Chavez, though Robert Andino (.304 OBP) has done his share of damage, too.
Again, the problem becomes finding a place for Span to play, though that doesn't appear to be a problem this year. A spot just opened up in right field where Nick Markakis was just put on the DL due to wrist surgery. There has also been a spot for a month in left field, where Nolan Reimold has been out with a bulging disk in his neck that has required multiple epidurals. Span could fit in with the Orioles long term there as Reimold is now 28 years old and has bounced between the majors and minors a bit in recent years.
Orioles Top Prospects per BaseballProspectus.com
Dylan Buncy – RHP – 5 stars
Manny Machado – SS – 5 starts
Jonathan Schoop – INF – 4 stars
The Reds lead the NL Cental with Drew Stubbs, a 27-year-old with a .300 OBP as their center fielder. He now has 1500 major league at-bats and a .249 career batting average. And believe it or not, he’s not the big problem.
By the way, you’re warned – CAPS heavy sentence coming up.
The big problem is the number .214. CUMATIVELY, that is the ON-BASE PERCENTAGE from the Reds LEAD-OFF hitters. It is as if every person they put atop the lineup becomes Drew Butera. Except that isn’t fair to Butera, whose career OBP is .231.
I don’t know what to add to that. I’m a little stunned. How can they not get Joey Votto and Jay Bruce a little help? Let’s get to the prospects….
Reds Top Prospects per BaseballProspectus.com
Billy Hamilton – SS – 5 stars
Devin Mesoraco – C – 5 stars
Zach Cozart – SS – 3 stars (Huh. This is the guy who is leading off for the Reds, so let’s go one more...)
Robert Stephenson – RHP – 3 stars