3:01pm: The team announced the move on Span while also announcing that it has declined its club option on reliever Rafael Soriano and the team end of a mutual option for first baseman Adam LaRoche.
Neither of those moves surprised, either. Soriano struggled in the second half and lost his closer job, and never was really in contention to have his $14MM tab paid. LaRoche, meanwhile, will get a $2MM buyout. While it may have made sense to exercise the $15MM option in other circumstances, Washington is expected to shift Ryan Zimmerman over to first.
2:26pm: The Nationals have exercised center fielder Denard Span’s $9MM option, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. Span, 30, will now enter his final season of team control before hitting the market after the year.
This news comes as no surprise, as Span put up an outstanding all-around year in his second campaign with the Nats. He led the league with 184 hits and slashed .302/.355/.416 in 668 turns at bat. Span also contributed a career-best 31 stolen bases.
Even with some defensive metrics looking down on his work in center — which, it should be noted, goes against the views of some observers — he was nearly a 4-win player in the view of Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs. By measure of Baseball Prospectus’s WARP figure, Span tallied 5.7 wins above replacement.
Even better for Span and the Nats: since coming over from Minnesota, Span has only missed time sporadically while remaining an everyday presence in the lineup. While a slight step back in production may be expected, it is worth noting that Span produced at this level earlier in his career before concussion issues struck.
Span, of course, was acquired from Minnesota prior to the 2013 season in exchange for pitching prospect Alex Meyer. Though the Twins are only just preparing to see how their end of the deal that will pay out, the Nationals are surely happy that it was such an easy decision to pick up this option.
I wouldn’t say the metrics dislike his work at all. They did in 2014, but he has consistently graded out as one of the better CFers over his career, so it’s probably just an anomaly. Now if they don’t like his work again in 2015, you start to wonder because the sample grows.
Correct me if I’m wrong but don’t defensive metrics take into consideration balls that they can get to? A slow center fielder could then have better defensive numbers because they aren’t expected to get to a lot of fly balls but a fast CF like Span are hurt by their speed
It considers how many balls they can get to, so a slow fielder shouldn’t have better numbers. If you have good defenders on side of you though that could ding your uzr.
Between Harper and Werth I think Span is patrolling most of the outfield space at Nationals Park.
There are way worse corner outfielders you can be paired with. Harper and Werth aren’t great but neither of them is really atrocious in the field.
Harper is a very good outfielder and gets to a lot… And he’s learning the position. Harper will be even better this year and I wouldn’t mind him taking over cf instead of span this year.
UZR for one year is also somewhat unreliable. He still is grading out slightly above average which for a cf is perfectly fine.
LaRoche is interesting.
Glad to see LaRoche finally go. The Nationals ought to be much better off next season with Ryan Zimmerman at 1B.
Laroche is better than Zimmerman so they will be much worse
Nope. Although Zimm’s health is no guarantee.
Zimm hits 15 homers a year , Laroche hits 30 hrs a year, both his around .260 every year
Uh, no. Zim is a career .285 hitter and he’s typically good for 20-25 homers a year.
Zimm is far better than ALR if both are healthy. And alr is getting older and declining.
what stats would zimm do if healthy?
2012 – .282/25/95. And he’s been hurt the past few years and still hit 26 in 2013. ALR was healthy in 2014 and only hit 26 (and 20 in 2013). Zimm is a much more talented player, especially given their ages.
Why? Lark he is a solid hitter and has much more experience at first then Zimmerman. Grudge?
Zimm is a gold glove 3b who can no longer throw… He will bring that great glove to 1b. Meanwhile, he’s a better hitter than alr as well. Plus Zimm is much younger.
We who saw every game that Denard played for the Nationals do not need metrics to tell us how good he is. Denard makes it look too easy. If you’ve played the game, you know he’s one of the best CF currently playing.
I watched every game. Span is much better going back than forward. He is a very good center fielder but I’d like to see him get better jumps on the shallow balls. Also, not much of an arm.
I love love how LaRoche turned down the Giants offer prior to 2010…good move buddy
Yeah i was disappointed when he turned it down. It’s nice to know we can look back and laugh at that stuff.
Looks like there won’t be a lot of room for Steven Souza in the outfield. I want my Mariners to start making offers on him. He’s just what they need.
I think span will be traded to make room for Souza. But, what top middle infield prospect are you offering?
I don’t think the Nats will trade Span. Michael Taylor’s stats don’t suggest he’s ready for the big time yet and Souza isn’t a center fielder from what I’ve read. Harper is only passable there.
For Souza I would trade any middle infielder in the M’s system (other than Cano obviously). Miller, Taylor or farmhand Marte all have the potential to be decent starting major league shortstops. Miller should hit well enough to be a second baseman with plus defense for the position. Taylor has a good glove and adequate bat. Marte has a better glove, more speed and good on-base ability but no pop.
I think Harper’s defense is really underrated – the guy is a ridiculous athlete and is very smooth in the OF. He likes CF best and he seems scared of running into walls full blast like he did in LA in 2012. I think he’d be a fantastic CF.
Taylor is not ready but Souza is. I’d trade Span for one of those infielders, put Souza and Werth and the corner spots and Harper in CF for 2015. In late 2015 and beyond Taylor will be ready and he can step into CF if Harper doesn’t do well enough out there.
Souza has a lot of value – big numbers, lots of controllable years. I think it would take more than one of those guys, and I hope they don’t trade him unless they bring back a guy like Baez, Profar, etc (even if we have to throw in another guy).
Span for one year isn’t worth one of those players. He’s being paid enough that his marginal value above the money isn’t worth a lot more than a good relief pitcher. Six years of team control on one of these guys is worth a lot more than that.
However, the basic concept of moving Harper to center is legit. I think he’d be ok out there, if not better. The marginal difference between Span’s offence and Souza’s might be an upgrade overall. But if I’ve got Span on a below-market deal in a walk year and I’m trying to win the World Series, I’m not dealing him.
I don’t think you’ll get a real plus offensive shortstop prospect for Souza. Souza has modest defensive value and hasn’t proven he can produce offensively at the major league level. These days a shortstop that can really hit and hit for power is not something any team is likely to trade. Would you trade Rendon for Souza? That’s kind of what you’re talking about. The M’s infielders have solid defensive value which has already been demonstrated in the majors. Miller also has some power and good overall hitting ability — at least in the minors. It’s a more fair valuation based on the fact that none of these guys has really proven what they can do in the bigs.
You’re right on with all of your points – it’s a tough call.
Rendon is much more valuable than Souza, but Souza is our best chance to shed some payroll while gaining offense. No way Souza fetches a big 2b/SS prospect alone, but maybe he could be a part of the package.
Span would probably get a qualifying offer if he was a FA, so there is at least $6MM of value on his $9MM contract. We got Cole, Treinan, and Krol for one year of Michael Morse, so if we could get anywhere near that package for Span, I’d trade him.
Rizzo could do a Souza/Miller swap mainly bc Miller plays a premium position, but Miller doesn’t seem so special. We still don’t know if Souza could be special, so I’d be sad to see that trade happen.
You have to overpay if you’re sending prospects for a veteran due to the bias against “unproven” players. But it’s not smart to trade too much prospect value for short time on a veteran who is also getting significant money. That Morse deal was awesome for the Nats (and I didn’t like it for the M’s). I would totally do that for Span if I’m the Nats.
Denard Span was the best defensive CF in the NL in 2014 (4th in MLB) and 6th best offensive CF in MLB. I think WAS should keep him. Very underrated.
Happy to see LaRoche gone….until he signs with Miami >:(