Denard Span Rumors

NL Notes: Toussaint, Phils, Pirates, Billingsley, Cards, Marlins, Nats

Here’s the latest out of the National League …

  • The Diamondbacks are close to reaching agreement with first-round pick Touki Toussaint, reports MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert“Touki I think is very close right now,” said GM Kevin Towers. “… Pretty optimistic we’ll get something done here shortly.” Toussaint, who was taken 16th overall (with a $2,338,200 slot bonus), was rated between the eighth (MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo) and thirteenth (ESPN.com’s Keith Law) best player available, with Law saying he could have the most upside of any of the draft-eligible high school righties.
  • Even if the Phillies decide to sell, it may prove difficult, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. In particular, many of the team’s veteran players have not only no-trade protection but also vesting options (some of which appear more achievable than others) at the back ends of their already-sizeable contracts. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated, however, that those contracts should not be a major hindrance if the team shops its best players. “[W]e have taken money back on deals before and will do it again if we have to,” says Amaro.
  • The Pirates rotation is looking increasingly thin, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Injuries have accumulated on top of an already poor start to the year, and unlike last year the club lacks obvious internal replacements to step in and provide a boost. Though some attractive arms figure to be made available at the trade deadline, Biertempfel indicates that Pittsburgh seems unlikely to pay the price (in dollars and in prospects) to add an impact starter.
  • Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley says he is exceedingly unlikely to throw again this year, as Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports. Billingsley has been diagnosed with a partially torn flexor tendon. “If I do the rehab I would have a chance,” he said, “but the risk would be … tendon fails, that’s a six-month rehab after surgery. Doing three years’ rehab would be a grind.” As that quote indicates, it has already been a long road for Billingsley and his troubled right arm. He is in the last year of a three-year, $35MM pact that includes a $14MM club option for 2015. It seems highly likely at this point, of course, that Los Angeles will instead pay a $3MM buyout and let Billingsley hit the open market.
  • The Cardinals are currently hesitant to go shopping for a starter, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). St. Louis still has internal options for the rotation (such as Joe Kelly and Carlos Martinez) and probably will not meet the asking price for top-end arms. One team that could be in the market for rotation help is the Marlins, Rosenthal adds.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says that the club is not looking to deal Denard Span or Adam LaRoche to allow Ryan Zimmerman to stay in left field when Bryce Harper returns, Rosenthal reports. Span remains an interesting name to watch, however, as Rosenthal notes. The outstanding defensive center fielder has failed to reach base reliably from the top of the lineup, but is under control through next season with a fairly reasonable $9MM team option.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Gonzalez, Chacin, Singleton, Cards, Span

In his latest Notes column, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports opines that the Rockies shouldn’t be buyers at this summer’s trade deadline. While the club could make a Wild Card run, he writes that the team isn’t a serious World Series contender. Rosenthal feels that the club should look to move Jhoulys Chacin — who could be a non-tender candidate this offseason — to clear room for one of its top pitching prospects (likely either Jon Gray or Eddie Butler). The bigger, and certainly bolder move posited by Rosenthal is to deal Carlos Gonzalez in order to clear room for everyday at-bats for Corey Dickerson and Charlie Blackmon. With Kyle Parker and a number of other outfield prospects on the horizon, plus Brandon Barnes and Drew Stubbs as reserve options, the team has plenty of outfield depth. Gonzalez is also owed $53MM following this season. Rosenthal notes that ownership has never shown an inclination to move Gonzalez, however, so the Rockies likely don’t share his point of view on the future of their star outfielder.

More from his latest piece…

  • Most agents with whom Rosenthal has spoken feel that Jon Singleton sold himself short by agreeing to a five-year, $10MM contract extension that could reach $30MM with three club options and $35MM if he hits enough performance bonuses. First base prospects are among the safest variety of prospects, and while some bust, Singleton will earn scarcely more than the current MLB average salary, over the life of his deal on an annual basis (assuming all options are exercised).
  • Rosenthal feels that the Cardinals should look to add a big-name starting pitcher such as James Shields or David Price at the deadline (should either become available, which is no guarantee, of course). While pitching certainly isn’t a need for the Redbirds, it’s not exactly clear where they’d place another bat upon acquiring one. And, given the team’s wealth of prospects at multiple positions, they could move valuable assets that are essentially spare parts to their own organization.
  • Ryan Zimmerman projects to play first base for the Nationals next season, but Rosenthal asks what might happen if Washington instead decides to keep Adam LaRoche. Doing so could push Zimmerman to left field full-time, with Bryce Harper manning center field, Jayson Werth in right field and Denard Span becoming a trade chip. Span has a $9MM club option and a “limited”future with the club given the presence of Michael Taylor (not to be confused with the former A’s prospect of the same name) at Double-A, writes Rosenthal.

East Notes: Span, Ruiz, Red Sox, Mets

Denard Span was surprised to hear his name come up again in trade rumors, MLB.com's Bill Ladson writes. Span has been with the Nationals less than a year, having arrived from Minnesota in a trade for prospect Alex Meyer last November 29. "My first reaction was, 'Here we go again,'" says Span. "I dealt with trade rumors the last two years. It surprised me because I've been in Washington for one year. The guys in Washington have been trying to get me for a while, and to hear rumors this quick after one year is surprising." Span hit .279/.327/.380 in his first year in Washington, a bit below his career averages. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • Carlos Ruiz might be a good fit with the Red Sox, suggests FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal hears that one team has already offered Ruiz somewhere in the vicinity of two years and $20MM, and he thinks that team could be the Red Sox. By signing Ruiz rather than Brian McCann or Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston would avoid committing to a contract of more than two years. Signing a catcher for three years or more might not be ideal, with prospects Blake Swihart and/or Christian Vazquez potentially ready to help in the next couple years.
  • Marlon Byrd's deal with the Phillies signals how difficult it will be for the Mets to find power this offseason, Newsday's Marc Carig writes. Byrd's contract, which could balloon to $24MM through 2016 if he can stay on the field, followed in the footsteps of Jose Dariel Abreu's $68MM deal with the White Sox, as well as Hunter Pence's $90MM contract with the Giants. Carig notes, though, that the frenzy for power hitters could be beneficial to the Mets in one respect — Lucas Duda and Ike Davis might be able to fetch a decent return on the trade market, despite their deficiencies.


Nationals Willing To Listen To Offers On Denard Span

Officials of competing clubs say that the Nationals appear willing to listen to offers on center fielder Denard Span, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The 29-year-old came to Washington via trade from the Twins, who received pitching prospect Alex Meyer in the deal.

Featuring stellar defense and a league-average bat (.279/.327/.380, 97 wRC+ in 2013), Span also swiped twenty bases last year. Most importantly, he comes with a very attractive contract that would fit in most teams' budgets, making Span a widely attractive trade target. He will be paid $6.5MM next year under the deal, which inludes a 2015 club option at $9MM with only a $500k buyout.

Presumably, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo would only seriously entertain the possibility of dealing Span if he wanted to clear room for a major acquisition. Though Heyman mentions the possibility of the Nats chasing Jacoby Ellsbury, it is also worth bearing in mind that the club could hypothetically add a corner outfielder and shift Bryce Harper to center. At this point, though, it is probably unwise to read too much into the report, as Rizzo could just be gauging how the market values his leadoff man.


Quick Hits: Myers, Hamilton, Span, Hawpe

The Rays are likely to promote Wil Myers in the next ten days, says ESPN's Jim Bowden (on Twitter). Myers has not yet appeared in the Majors. Myers, 22, is currently hitting .279/.354/.486 for Triple-A Durham. He is rated as the No. 4 prospect in baseball by Baseball America, Keith Law and Jonathan Mayo. The cutoff point for Super Two eligibility is not entirely clear, but we're now at a point in the season where it's unlikely Myers would be eligible for Super Two status if he were to earn a callup and stick. Regardless, the Rays would maintain his rights through 2019. Here are more notes from around the Majors.

  • David Ortiz thought the Red Sox would sign Josh Hamilton this offseason, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. "I thought it was going to happen," says Ortiz. "It didn’t happen, but I thought it was going to happen. We let some guys go that was like $300 million, so I thought there was a chance." Bradford cites a source who says Hamilton and the Red Sox never came close to an agreement. Hamilton later signed with the Angels for five years and $125MM.
  • Denard Span was surprised when the Twins traded him to the Nationals for Alex Meyer last offseason, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger reports (via Twitter). "I thought I was one of the cornerstones of the team. When I signed my contract, I thought I’d be there for five years," says Span, who's hitting .267/.318/.360 for the Nats this season.
  • Brad Hawpe of the Angels is back in the big leagues after nearly two years away, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez notes. The Angels promoted Hawpe from Triple-A Salt Lake on Saturday after he hit .305/.405/.504 in 131 at bats there. His last appearance in a big-league game was June 18, 2011 with the Padres. Hawpe says he had resigned himself to the idea that he might not play in the Majors again. "I was OK with it," he says. "I've had a bunch of good memories in this game. I've been very fortunate and blessed. It doesn't mean I wouldn't like to make some more memories, but I've been very blessed, and if that was the end of it, I was OK with it."

Rob Antony Talks Twins’ Offseason, Future

For the fourth straight year, Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony sat down with Jesse Lund of SB Nation's Twinkie Town to discuss the state of affairs with his team. Antony and Lund discussed the Twins' offseason at length, ranging from the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere to the Twins' pursuit of starting pitching. Here's a look at some of the highlights, but bear in mind that entire piece is well worth your time…

  • The Twins never intended to trade both Revere and Span, but the Phillies' offer of Trevor May and Vance Worley was too strong not to pull the trigger. Antony identifies May as someone who could get a September call-up in 2013 if he enjoys a strong season.
  • The Twins had conversations with both Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano, but were unable to agree to terms with either one. In particular, the Twins sought a club option for Baker, who wanted strictly a one-year deal. Antony said they didn't want 2013 to "be a donation" to Baker in the event that he wasn't healthy and effective for most of the season. That decision looks wise, with Baker on the 60-day disabled list for the Cubs.
  • Mike Pelfrey identified the Twins as a team he wanted to pitch for and was aggressive in working out a deal, according to Antony. The Twins did quite a bit of homework on Pelfrey's recovery from Tommy John surgery in order to ascertain that the right-hander would indeed be ready for Opening Day, as he promised.
  • The Twins made several "competitive offers" to free agent starting pitchers, in some cases making better offers than the ones those pitchers ultimately took. The Twins had conversations with nearly every free agent starting pitcher and spoke with around 15 agents for pitchers at the Winter Meetings in December.
  • Following the Span trade, most teams didn't believe that the team would also trade Revere. Antony says four teams were in the mix for Revere, but the Phillies were the most aggressive and ultimately landed him with the aforementioned offer.
  • The Twins were willing to do a one-for-one swap of Span and Alex Meyer because they believe Meyer is a legitimate front-of-the-rotation candidate who can be a "dominant" strikeout pitcher.
  • The decision to bring Aaron Hicks north as the team's Opening Day center fielder was a result of Hicks' strong play in Spring Training and his poise off the field. The Twins' front office was never overly concerned with delaying Hicks' free agency by a season: "If he's that good of a player we're going to do what we can to sign him long term and none of that's going to matter."
  • Antony, GM Terry Ryan and the rest of the front office prefer to gradually expose their top prospects to the Major Leagues so as not to field a team of all rookies. Additionally, that line of thinking prevents mass arbitration and free agency issues: "If you can bring a couple guys, a couple rookies in each year, it helps infuse that and it helps to spread it out so that not everybody becomes arbitration eligible at the same time or free agents at the same time, all that stuff."
  • The Twins "admire" the Royals' bullpen of power arms and would like to build a similar bullpen. The team prioritized power arms in the 2012 Draft, selecting a number of hard-throwing college relievers.
  • Antony offered a definitive "No," when asked if the team had interest in Aaron Harang prior to his trade to the Mariners. The Twins feel they have a number of similar arms in the organization already.
  • There's been no contact between the Twins and Jim Thome for "a couple of months," and the two were never on the same page. Minnesota had interest in Thome, but they were far apart in discussions.
  • "It would be great if he could be a Twin for life," Antony said of Justin Morneau. "He's a guy who's meant a lot for this organization and we'd love it if he were to play his entire career here, but you just don't know how things are going to work out in the end."
  • Antony feels that too much has been made of the decision not to extend Ron Gardenhire prior to this season. Many have speculated that Gardenhire is on the hot seat following a pair of 90-loss seasons, but Antony said it was intended to be an organization-wide message that they're looking to get better from top to bottom. He adds that he hopes Gardenhire is the Twins' manager for years to come, and that in three years people are surprised there was even a debate.

Nationals Discuss Pre-Arbitration Extensions

The risk and reward that comes with signing an extension before or during a player’s first year of arbitration can be a tricky one. Players can take the guaranteed money and set themselves up for life or play out the arbitration years and try to cash in with a bigger payday down the road.  Washington’s Denard Span, Kurt Suzuki and Gio Gonzalez all signed early extensions and talked to MLBTR about their decisions.

Outfielder Denard Span (Signed a five-year, $16.25MM deal with Minnesota in March 2010):

“It was after my first full season in the big leagues, after the '09 season. It took me a little bit of time to get to the Major Leagues, I didn’t get there at 20 or 21 years old, so at the time the Twins came to me about the extension, it just made sense for me and my family. We realized what we possibly were leaving on the table if I had good years but we also thought about the risk of if I got hurt or anything like that. It just made sense for my situation.

“My agent set out numbers and I remember after my best year in '09, he said if you just do this for the next two, three years and don’t take this contract, this is what you would get in arbitration so we compared the numbers and it was a little bit of a discount to take the contract at the time and he put that out there, but the decision was ultimately my decision.

“I’ve been on the DL the past few years so I’d like to think it worked out fine but there’s so many unknowns and that’s the risk you take when you're dealing with any kind of guaranteed contract, whether to take it or play your cards and wait for that big payday.

“I wouldn’t say it was an easy decision. It was something that me and my family had to pray about. It was a situation where we felt like if I were to get hurt and never play again, at least all the hard work that I’ve put forth in this game, I’d at least have something to walk away from. That was one of the determining factors. I realized that when this contract is up, I wouldn’t be naturally young but I wouldn’t be old. I’m going to be 31, lord willing when I’m a free agent, so what I didn’t get in the beginning, I believe that I’m going to get at the end.”

Catcher Kurt Suzuki (Signed a four-year, 16.25MM deal with Oakland in July 2010):

“It’s a tough decision obviously. At the time you work so had to get to a point to where you're starting to get paid I guess and I think I was signed during my last season before arbitration, so it was the year leading up to arbitration, and obviously I knew I was going to arbitration next year but the multi-year deal, to have the security for your family, it was hard to look that much money in the mirror and say I don’t want it, I’m going to wait. You get security for your family. It’s a pretty good chunk of change. It was hard to turn down. Some guys take that route and some guys don’t. I thought it was a deal where I felt it was enough security for my family and I. I was married at the time.

“Obviously if you sign a long term deal before arbitration years, you’re going to have to take a discount because you’re obviously not in line to make the money yet. You’re kind of predicting the future so you have to take a little bit of a discount but at the same time, how much of a discount you want to take, you have to ask yourself and what are you happy with. After deciding with my wife, we felt OK with taking the deal and having that security.

“You break it down and you have comparables. My case was a little different because they said I didn’t have many comparables. I don’t know, they just said there wasn’t many people to compare me with that signed multi-year deals so like Russell Martin was a comparable but he didn’t sign a multi-year deal so it was kind of hard to gauge off somebody for a deal.

“There’s a risk. It was an amount that my wife and I felt comfortable with and it was worth taking. Later on I might have been looking to make more, obviously if I went year to year, but at the same time, we felt that money was sufficient enough to take the deal. I’m happy with how it worked out. Obviously there’s a chance you could have made more money but at the same time, with how things [worked] out I think it was a good deal.

“Denard and I talk about it all the time. He comes from Minnesota who has the similar philosophies as Oakland to try and lock players up long term before their arbitration years and we talked about giving up money but we also talked about how its hard to turn that much money down because you’re making a really good amount of money. The Major League minimum is a really good amount, but when you’re talking millions of dollars, to turn that down is tough to do. When you get offered that much money in your face, what are you going to do?”

Pitcher Gio Gonzalez (Signed a five-year, $42MM deal with Washington in January 2012, a record at the time for a first-year arbitration eligible pitcher. He was traded from Oakland just a month earlier): 

“I looked at as you know what? The organization gave me a chance to play and Mike Rizzo (Nationals GM) believed in me from the beginning and he gave me something that I felt was reasonable and gave me an opportunity and I said why not? The only way to keep getting up there and is keep improving and try to make the best of it.

“You also look at the team and the guys that were coming up, you had Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, you had all these guys and the pieces they were putting together, I felt like that rotation was going to get better and better and I was like why not be a part of it?

“I think it was just me wanting to play baseball and I think it helped secure my family and me and it almost was to the point where it was like, you can roll the dice and see what happens, but you can never promise tomorrow. I was more excited to play here than anything. It was a new team, new uniform, I think the thing that really drove me to want to play here more was the fact that ‘Rizz’ believed in me from the beginning. He didn’t question anything and he gave me a opportunity and I felt like he gave me a great price for what was reasonable. He didn’t skyrocket me but he got me right where I needed to be to go out there and prove my performance.

“I liked it. Like I said, nothing is promised tomorrow. I think what ‘Rizz’ did was more than reasonable. He thought it was fair, I thought it was fair. We worked both sides out with no complaints. I was ready to grab a baseball and start pitching. Trust me, I was thinking way beyond the money. I was thinking more like World Series. Let’s go. Great rotation, great offense and defense. I was more than happy to play for them.”


Nationals Notes: Zimmermann, Vazquez, Span

Here's the latest news and stories making headlines out of Washington…

  • Jordan Zimmermann and the Nationals continue to discuss financial figures for the right-hander, but the two sides remain far apart in their conversations, says Amanda Comak of The Washington Times (on Twitter). While Zimmermann would be open to a long-term contract, he wants to first address his arbitration deal for the upcoming season, according to Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com (via Twitter).
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says there's nothing new to report regarding free agent Javier Vazquez's status, writes Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com (on Twitter). The veteran made mention of his desire to play for a contender earlier this month, but stated that he would not rush into signing with a team. 
  • Outfielder Denard Span, acquired this offseason from the Twins, enters the season highly optimistic about the Nationals' chances come October, says Bill Ladson of MLB.com.

The Denard Span Trade: Reaction & Fallout

The Nationals avoided the busy free agent center field market by acquiring Denard Span from the Twins today in exchange for highly-touted pitching prospect Alex Meyer.  Here is some of the early buzz about the trade and how it affects the Nationals, Twins and several other teams around the league…

  • The trade seems to leave Adam LaRoche without a spot in the Nationals' lineup, meaning the first baseman could go elsewhere as a free agent.  In a conference call with reporters (including Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider), Washington GM Mike Rizzo said the trade "gives us some options" with player moves and noted that the team is still talking to LaRoche.  Rizzo said teams have called about Michael Morse, so the Nats could potentially re-sign LaRoche and deal Morse instead.
  • While a Morse trade is a possibility, some executives feel the Span deal will lead to LaRoche signing with the Red Sox, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports looks at how the trade impacts LaRoche, Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton and the Phillies.
  • The trade was "a huge win" for the Nationals, opines Fangraphs' Dave Cameron, who thinks Minnesota could've gotten more than Meyer in exchange for an affordable center fielder.  "The Twins got a real talent back in return for Span, but it’s a talent with too many question marks to be the piece they’re getting back in return for a three win player under team control at a fraction of his market price," Cameron writes.
  • Conversely, ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required) likes the trade for the Twins.  The club sorely needs young pitching and Meyer's potential is worth "an average regular in center whose value will fluctuate with his BABIP," as Law describes Span.  Law also notes that this deal should help the Rockies get more in a trade for Dexter Fowler, as Fowler is younger and has more power than Span.

Reds Notes: Span, Latos, Bailey, Ludwick

With B.J. Upton now a Brave and Denard Span now a National, the Reds' outfield/leadoff hitter options are thinning out, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.  The Reds tried to acquire Span from the Twins at last year's trade deadline, though Sheldon hadn't heard anything about the Reds continuing their pursuit for Span this winter.  Sheldon believes Michael Bourn and Angel Pagan are too expensive for the Reds and Shane Victorino may be as well, though Cincinnati is one of at least seven teams who have shown interest in Victorino's services.

Here are some more items about of the Queen City…

  • In a separate piece from Sheldon, the Reds' recent history of locking up young players before free agency makes Mat Latos and Homer Bailey seem like extension candidates this winter.  In his recent look at Cincinnati's arb-eligible players, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted that Bailey's injury history may keep the Reds from pursuing a multiyear deal with the righty, while Latos could receive a five-year, $60MM extension, though predicting a new Latos deal is difficult due to a lack of comparables.
  • Dustin Bledsoe, Latos' agent, tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that the Reds have yet to approach his client about an extension.
  • Also from Fay, he hears from agent Dan Horwits that the Reds have "been in contact" with his client Ryan Ludwick about a possible return to Cincinnati.  "There’s interest on both sides. Hopefully, we can [get] something done. We’re talking to other clubs. He has offers from other clubs,” Horwits said.