The Giants have announced the signing of free agent outfielder Denard Span to a three-year contract. He’ll reportedly receive a $31MM guarantee in the deal, which includes a fourth-year mutual option at $12MM with a $4MM buyout. After taking home a $6MM signing bonus and a $3MM salary for 2016, Span will earn two consecutive $9MM annual payouts.
Span, who turns 32 in February, can also earn incentives of up to $5MM. He can tack $1MM onto his salary in 2016, and up to $2MM apiece in the following two years, by hitting plate appearance thresholds that culminate at 525 turns at bat annually. Span is a client of the Boras Corporation.
With the move, San Francisco is set to add yet another significant free agent after previously inking Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. The first two signings upgraded the rotation, of course, while the move to bring on Span will bolster an outfield corps that had looked in need of an addition. While the club previously chased Ben Zobrist, who might have provided some infield depth as well as a regular option in left, it seems plausible to think that Span’s signing will wrap up the club’s major offseason business.
It’s unclear at present what precise role Span will play. He’s spent the bulk of his time in center, but could also be an option in left. Angel Pagan has been the team’s regular option up the middle in recent years, but he (like Span) has dealt with quite a few injuries. And Gregor Blanco is also capable of playing there.
All three of those players ought to cover things in center and left, with Hunter Pence likely getting the bulk of the action in right. But he, too, could also be spelled at times against right-handed pitching. While Pagan is a switch-hitter, he’s performed better from the left side over his career. (The same holds true, unsurprisingly, for the left-handed-hitting Span and Blanco, though none have dramatic platoon splits.)
The overall mix has its share of upside but also comes with some risk. All three of the returning players missed time last year, and Span has battled through core muscle and hip surgeries in the last year. It’s notable, too, that Span is the youngest of the bunch. But the presence of a high-quality fourth outfielder in Blanco, as well as some younger options in the system, certainly helps.
In Span, the Giants will get one of the best contact hitters in all of baseball. Over the last three years, Span ranks second — behind Michael Brantley and in front of just-departed Giants left fielder Nori Aoki — in overall contact rate.
And that approach has translated into results. While he doesn’t leave the yard very often, Span delivers plenty of extra-base hits with his line-drive and ground-ball heavy stroke. Since joining the Nationals via trade before the 2013 season, he has posted a sturdy .292/.345/.404 batting line, good for a 109 wRC+. And those numbers trended up over his time in D.C.
Of course, the fleet-footed Span also contributes quite a bit on the bases. He’s a significant stolen base threat — his 62 steals dating to the start of 2013 rank 22nd in baseball — but the value goes beyond that as well. Span has received positive marks from Fangraphs’ BsR metric in every season of his career, making him one of the game’s thirty best overall runners in that time frame.
Defensively, Span is a tough player to value. Metrics once valued him as a well-above-average center fielder. But the more recent results suggest that his range has declined. Last year, UZR hit Span with his worst-ever rating and DRS charged him with a rather remarkable -10 defensive runs saved over just 523 innings in the field.
The contract falls somewhat shy of the three-year, $39MM pact predicted by MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes at the outset of the winter, but Span’s market was always tough to call given that he ended the season on the DL. If nothing else, the fact that he reached a third guaranteed year shows that there’s still plenty of demand on the market.
Jon Heyman first reported that a deal was close, via Twitter, and added details on the incentives clause (on Twitter), as did Bob Nightengale of USA Today (in a tweet). Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area tweeted the guarantee. Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News first noted that there were incentives (Twitter link). Baggarly (on Twitter) and John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (in a tweet) had details of the mutual option. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports had the full breakdown of the deal on Twitter.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
I got really excited when I saw this, then saw it was for three years and am disappointed now.
There is no way Giants would do it otherwise. High risk player but high reward I think 3 years, which will go up to his mid 30s will really be good for the Giants IF and ONLY IF Span can stay healthy
I wouldn’t really call a defense-driven 4 fWAR season “high reward”. He’s a meh everyday player even when he’s not hurt, $10M a year isn’t overpaying him but he’s not outstanding at anything.
Luckily for the Giants they seem to win titles when surrounding Posey & Bumgarner with a whole lotta “meh” so, there’s that.
Not outstanding at anything? How about checking batting average, on base percentage, base running statistics, putting the ball in play ratio?
His batting stats for the last four years have been better than meh..they’ve been pretty good. I guess you don’t understand what league average actually is.
Lol what? That entire infield are potential or already gold glovers…. I don’t think you actually have any idea what you’re talking about. Meh are the White Sox. Meh are the Twins. Meh are the Phillies. Meh are the Padres. Meh are the Dodgers once you get passed the blinding light of Kershaw’s curveball. Those are meh’s. But Duffy, Crawford, Panik, Tomlinson, Belt, Pence, Posey is most definitely not meh. In fact your comment is now “meh”
Simply pushing Pagan to LF should save the Giants a ton of defensive runs considering he was the worst in MLB in CF last year. And a lifetime 352 OBP at the top of the lineup won’t hurt either. His profile of spray hitting & gap power is a perfect fit for AT&T.
Who cares how a player brings wins to a team. A run saved is as good as a run scored.
He would have ended up with 3 years someplace. He also came in almost $10m below the predicted contract from MLBTR.
Well there’s a curveball, though w/o figures, 3 years isn’t bad
Three years is awful for a 32 year old CF with major lower body issues. This is a big win for Span and an odd decision for the Giants. I would think with just a little more money they could have gotten Fowler, who’s a much surer thing.
I don’t like this deal either, as for fowler I doubted SF wanted to lose another draft pick to him, possibly to Upton et al, but not Fowler
Thats assuming he stays put in Center. Platoons work wonders. Left field will also be a place for him to roam. 31 million for Span, with the outfielders left on the board, isn’t the end of the world and by comparison with what they want in terms of years and money is a bargain.
Additionally, we have no idea what the offers are for Fowler and I’m sure the front office, like every front office, did their due diligence with regards to Fowler. Either he wants too much money, more years or they just dont like him as a fit for the team.
Also, Fowler is incredibly streaky
Fowler was predicted to get something like 4 years 60 million. I think Parra would be a better option though.
Fowler has draft pick compensation attached to him, and a much worse track record of CF defensive value than Span. Also less contact skills and more reliance on power to provide value, both things that don’t play as well at AT&T.
10 million is nothing in this baseball economy
I’ve always wondered why the average fan cares so much about years and money for player contracts…
Because it effects the teams future in terms of potential moves. And I think the average fan doesn’t care about money
The typical fan doesn’t automatically think a contract will fail and they will need to worry about potential moves in the future… They care about the next or current season.
Better than what we have now I guess.
better than an absent aoki for sure – and better than giving away a ton of stuff for a cargo or ozuna.. probably better for the future.
I agree. I would have loved to see CarGo. Good defensively and can bring a younger punch to the middle of the order. But there’s a reason I’m not in the front office.
I don’t recall too many Boras clients signing with the Giants. Agent aside, it’s still a good move.
I think Zito was the last
I do know they have Grant Green in the minors. I think him and Span are the only two currently.
I am sad to see him go.
Great signing if he’s healthy. Takes over CF and leadoff
Looking at 2015 stats, seems the Giants just signed Gregor Blanco.
Kapler's Coconut Oil
Span played like all of 10 games, why would you think it’s fair to analyze him on 2015. Also, the Giants signed Blanco in Aoki last year and he was vastly better when healthy
Hip injuries are no bueno. I think it’s fair to wonder whether 2015 Span is future Span.
61 is not the same as 10.
Did you compare AB between the two? Span missed a good portion of the season.
Wow! Seriously? You the 2015 stats when he only played 61 games
That should be a pretty good indication that even the Giants understand that what Blanco did in 2015 was an outlier.
Three outfielders in their 30’s. Blanco will see almost as many at bats as Pagan, Span and Pence. This will be a true 4 man outfield rotation. I like the move!
Both had excellent batting lines last year. I’m sure SFG would be pleased if they can repeat and stay healthy.
Nice move by the Giants
I guess he gets 3/40, somewhere around there. If so, nice deal. Gordons deal did not help his fellow OF’ers.
kind of signed early and cheep for a boras client
Guess they had to have someone to take over the role of mid 30’s Centerfielder with injury concerns for the next few years after Pagan leaves next year. Oh well, it could work out if he stays healthy.
Puke!!! What happened to the Fowler rumor??? What a nightmare!! Oh well..
Kapler's Coconut Oil
There’s was never a Fowler rumor, he just went to a Warriors game in Oakland, that’s all
Giving up a draft pick for Dexter Freaking Fowler….pass.
3/31. LOL. Someone going to calling out that word that ryhmes with illusion soon
Contusion? Absolution? Contribution?
pollution? intrusion? contusion? destitution? institution….
Baseball on Earth
Final Answer: collusion
makes no sense what they did. Span is the same as having Aoki so why not just pick up his contract. You get about the same player for 1 year at a much lower cost.
Way more power than Aoki, and a better glove.
Span doesn’t have “way more power” than anyone.
He’s got more isolated power than Aoki.
Span career/steamer for 2016: .107/.110
Aoki career/steamer for 2016: 0.99/.090
That’s not “way more” by any stretch. It’s “slightly” – get your adjectives right.
its over 20% better.
To go along with seamaholic’s point, Aoki also has contributed more defensively since the 2014 season started. Albeit, that was in a corner OF spot whereas Span played LF. But considering his age and lower body injuries, his defense is a big question moving forward.
Steamer has Span at 2.6 fWAR and Aoki at 1.0 fWAR next year. Span’s decent if he stays healthy but he never is, for whatever reason Steamer has him as the best value out of anyone out there, but they are way low on Upton and Cespedes imo.
5 homeruns is power? The glove is about the same.
There is more to power than just HRs.
I assume they didnt pick up Aoki for a couple reasons, he signed very early and they were planning on making a big splash in one way or another. They went for pitching to start, didnt get their first target (Grinke) but were able to get Cueto and Shark, I assume if they werent able to get Cueto they would have spent that money on a premier outfielder. This is probably the most they wanted to spend in both length and AAV, keeping Aoki and missing out on Price Greinke and Cueto they wouldnt have had any room for a major move.
The only I can think of justifying a 3 year $31 mil is:
1. This will be Pagan’s last year with SF, and Pagan should play as LF now.
2. Span will then be the primary option at CF
3. Parker will be given a chance to win a role and hopefully be on the roster. This guy can become the primary LF from 2017 onwards
That’s the only logic I can see
And that’s the right logic. That’s what I expect to see this year. The Giants had no up-and-coming CFs, and needed a better option there now. Parker and Williamson will be the best options in LF next year.
Despite all the clamouring for LF this offseason, the Giants’ biggest need in the OF has always been for a stronger CF this year AND beyond. They have future options for corner OFs, but not in CF.
I”m hoping Mac Williamson makes the team. The Giants OF is already lefty-heavy even before adding Parker, and Williamson is a vastly superior defensive player..
Aoki can’t play CF
Really thought he would have looked good in Detroit. 3 years at 10MM each is just a bit more than Pelfrey money. Solid signing if he passes his physical. Guess Avila will follow in DD’s footsteps and continue to make the manager come up with a lead off hitter in Detroit. Would be nice if the GM provided one.
why does everyone think this is a bad signing he is a good player with solid contact and second best contact hitter in the league
Other than being a solid lead off man, my guess is Avila did not think Span would have been a big enough up-grade to lose either Gose or Collins from the 25 man roster. Not sure he is correct in that logic, but I like his careful approach and 3 years with Span’s injury history could be bigger problems than his contributions.
Any additional $$$ that will take them over the Luxury Tax,(I think they are about $5MM from there) will be a solid BP piece or a big LF signing.
So drop Aviles. Or use Collins in trade for a bullpen arm.
I think Aviles is costing the Tigers 1/2mill as does Collins. They still go over the Luxury tax with the next signing. That’s why I think they will stand pat unless something big (LF) or solid(RP) pushes them to go over the tax.
I was saying A couple million, like the salaries of Collins or Aviles, might have provided enough room under the LT to add Span without penalty. Values contract is not guaranteed until the end of spring training, to my knowledge.
It’s 1.29 PELF /yr. I think that is a good risk for a pretty good upside. They have a lot of flexibility now.
Wow. 3 years for Span? Everyone else is getting 6 or 7.
Span’s 32 and is coming off major hip surgery. Shocked he got 3 years without at least the 3rd being a team option.
This won’t make or break the team, but it’s a bad deal! Span is worse than Aoki, yet he costs more AAV and more years. Also, this makes the lineup too lefthanded. Of all the available outfielders, Span was the worst option except Parra.
Span is worse than Aoki? The lineup is too left handed? Span is a better option than Parra?
-Span has a better glove, is younger AND plays center field. Also a better contact hitter.
-Posey, Pence, Duffy, plus a switch hitting Pagan.
-Gerardo Parra is BY FAR a better option in the outfield than Denard Span. More power, younger, better glove.
The hell are you smoking?
Parra is not a better option than Span at all. You forgot that Span’s OBP skills are much better and he steals more bags, making him a much more preferable leadoff hitter.
So Michael, you’re saying that just because Span’s OBP is better and he steals more bags, that makes him the better player? Are you forgetting the fact that Parra has a better arm, glove, is younger and can hit for power? You must be, considering this is your only logic.
Span’s ok, he’s not a star but he’s decent if healthy—big if though.
i like parra but his splits against lefties sucks in a southpaw heavy division
Odd statement considering Parra has been replacement level the last 2 years. Span has put up 5.4 WAR in that time despite missing half a season to injury.
Aaaand Kenny Williams has dropped his D. Span rookie card to the floor and begins to cry in his beer…
Why? the White Sox have a better, younger, healthier and CHEAPER CF/lead-off man in Adam Eaton under team control through 2021. They had likely had little interest in Span. With the Giants signing him it takes one of their rumored competitors out of the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes, who would be a great fit on the south side of Chicago in LF and in the middle of their batting order.
If Cespedes accepts anythings less than 6 years, it’ll be 2, attached to a gawd awful amount per..like 20m. I can’t see Sir Jerry signing off on that paycheck
If healthy, he will definitely provide offensive value especially in a ballpark where speed guys excel
Question is his defense, especially if he is playing CF. -10 DRS in CF since 2013. also as mentioned by other posters, hip injuries are concerning, especially for a guy who’s calling card is speed.
Musical chairs game keeps going. Who is left in terms of demand?
Detroit waits patiently for either Upton or Cespedes to slip through the cracks.
Another chair gone for a health risk signing. Advantage goes to the remaining chairs as the players go round and round.
Lots of chairs left. Plenty of teams that haven’t been mentioned in rumors are laying in wait. At least one of Cespedes, Upton, Parra and Fowler will go to someone who hasn’t even be mentioned.
Keep waiting. I don’t expect either of those two in Detroit. Mr. Illitch is saving any luxury tax breach for the trade deadline. Guess best chance for the Tigers to sign a leadoff type, now, would be a spring training invite to Victorino. Not my first choice.
A great fit. Happy for Denard. I hope he’s healthy and can contribute at full capacity. Sorry to see him leave the Nationals but the Giants are a great landing place.
I get people thinking the Giants should have just kept Aoki…that’s what I originally wanted. But I still think this is a good deal. Span has a better slugging percentage as is a better base runner. I also think he’s a better fit and overall player than Fowler while also being cheaper. Span and Fowler have comparable slugging numbers, but Span makes a hell of a lot more contact. The Giants and Royals have proved that high contact guys can beat elite pitching and this fits.
And I definitely prefer this deal to spending $100M+ on Cespedes or Upton who only play hard when they feel like it.
You make a decent point, I wasn’t interested in Cespedes because he is hit or miss and barring his short stint with Mets, he was mostly miss. Upton, I wouldn’t have given up a draft pick for a guy who hates AT
He did just fine in Detroit, too. I never saw him not hustle.
Like I said, mostly miss. And he was “ok” with DET the stint there doesn’t qualify as good, or even decent.
You must have tough standards. I disagree.
Not a bad deal. IF he can stay healthy this would be an incredible steal but obviously he has Heath concerns
I’ll miss him as a Nats fan. He is injury prone but can rank as one of the best CFs in the game when healthy.
Not a bad signing, but a tad surprising after going through the Angel Pagon on again off again injury filled contract. I did think Span would get a tad larger guaranteed money deal. 2-3 years but at 12-13 mill a year.
Too much hate for this deal. the money’s relative and giants already spent a ton this offseason. .350 lifetime OBP, good splits, will be good in LF. Lead off hitter with speed. No draft pick loss. Solid move from a solid organization.
Don’t hate the deal but my are the Giants risk takers. They are closing eyes towards weak performances of all three guys they have signed. May all work out but some could blow up in their faces.
I don’t think teams with $200m payrolls consider 10million for a CF and leadoff a risk at all.
Pegan will be a free agent at the end of the season, and the Giants would be looking to fill LF/CF positions in a offseason where there looks to be little quality outfielders. this offseason had great outfield depth and they got a quality player on a fair contract. good signing.
People are going to think I’m nuts, but I just wonder if the Giants brought in Span on a relatively short deal rather than Cespedes or Upton longer because they might enter the Harper sweepstakes in a few years? Everyone thinks he is a lock for the Yanks, but I do clearly remember him saying how much he liked SF during the playoffs in 2014. This money, Cain money, and Pence money will all come off the books by then.
Hmm, interesting theory. I don’t remember his comments about SF in 2014, but I do remember he had more than enough power to hit a few out to right at AT&T Park.
Then again, Greinke always said he liked SF, but ended up in Arizona anyway.
Yankees are no longer spenders, they won’t go over the LT threshold when they drop under after 2017. Anyone who can afford a 500 million deal over 12 years can have Harper when he goes on market. Maybe SF, I dunno
The Yankees aren’t spenders right now.
I can guarantee you that they will be BIG spenders when a player like Harper is available.
Maybe after signing those others, they just didn’t have the budget. Don’t over think it.
someone like harper is a hard buy for SF, offensive forces tend to want to steer clear of AT&T – and harper seems to be the type that doesn’t want to pay CA taxes – could be wrong though – you never know what is going through a player’s head
Steamer 2016 projections:
Gordon: 3.7 fWAR
U do know projections mean jack. si projected the ravens to win the super bowl this year! They’re not factoring in injuries when they make projections and neither are you
Of course you can’t really predict injuries. In any statistical projection, not just in sports but in everything, there will always been unknown elements that can’t be accounted for. The more unknowns, like in sports, the more you have to take the projections with a grain of salt. And yet when we hear that a player on our team is projected to do well, we feel better.
They’re projections not future certainties.
Do you think the Giants can still pick up a solid left fielder via trade/free agent? Cargo/Bruce come to mind.
I think it’d be smart to platoon Span and Pagan in Center for 2016. They’re both coming off injury plagued season so platooning could be the most effective. Then have Span take over Center in 2017.
They have the pieces to trade for an Ozuna, Blackmon, or Bruce, but I don’t see why they would now that they added Span. Their outfield seems pretty much set.
There are obviously significant health concerns with Span. That’s the only way to explain how cheap this deal is. You get what you pay for in most cases though.
I like the deal, the team is set(except maybe tweaking bullpen) but the money saved from cespedes or fowler now go to the trade deadline fund if they need to add a player.