Nationals Trade Alex Meyer For Denard Span

After coming up short in the postseason, the Nationals have traded RHP Alex Meyer to the Minnesota Twins for the long-coveted CF Denard Span.

The deal is being described early as a “win now” move and perhaps an indication that free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche may not be re-signed. Also possible, but less likely: a trade involving Michael Morse (if LaRoche does sign), Brian Goodwin or Eury Perez (Span is signed through 2014 with an option for 2015).

Centerfield, of course, has been craptastic (sorry to use the technical term) for the franchise for more than a decade.

Perhaps more important: Span gives the Nats a more traditional leadoff hitter, which enables the team to drop Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth lower in the lineup and slot them into more traditional run-producing roles. Defensively, Harper will most likely slide over to left field, though it’s possible that Harper will see time in right from time to time.

The 2012 Watchlist, which is technically inactive, has been updated nevertheless to reflect the trade.

Author: Luke Erickson

Since 2009, Luke Erickson has been chief writer, editor, and bottle-washer of Potomac is his home base as a season-ticket holder, but he has visited every affiliate north of Florida at least once, with multiple trips to Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

28 thoughts on “Nationals Trade Alex Meyer For Denard Span”

  1. That was a surprise…

    I’m always reluctant to part with minor league talent. I’ll admit that I thought Gio for everyone was a terrible trade (I stand corrected). But I actually like this deal. Span is under control for 3 more years, and Meyer is still probably 2+ years away. And Bullpen Banter just insisted that Meyer was still arguably projected as a relief pitcher.
    Capps for Ramos, Meyer for Span??

    1. Remember that Meyer was comped to Daniel Bard for that very reason (might not work out as a starter but has stuff electric enough to be an late-inning hero).

  2. This trade feels like a fleecing. I read that Rizzo’s been fond of Span since high school.
    It needs to be said … Span is a league average player, nothing more.
    For this they gave up their # 1 pitching prospect?
    I think Rizzo is showing that when it comes to being a GM, he’s a terrific draft & development guy.

    1. I’m confused by your comment. Are you for or against this trade?

      Span is not an average major league player. He is an above average player and numbers support this. He is good for 3 WAR a year. Meyer has great “stuff” but while he had a high strike out rate at low A it dipped in high A. He could turn into a dominant starter or could top out as a reliever.

      To me this seems like a pretty even trade. The Nationals get a player that is similar to Michael Bourn minus the huge contract and high strikeouts. It also doesn’t block Goodwin long term if he turns out to be the real deal. The Twins get a good pitching prospect which they sorely need.

      1. Span had on OBP of .342 in 2012, which is decent. But that’s it, his OPS is a below average .738.
        He’s a decent outfielder, but we already had one of those in Harper.
        One of the upsides I read was that it was good from a cost control standpoint.
        The Nats were 21st in payroll and have lots of room to grow money-wise.

        I kept hearing that the Nats were a logical trade matchup with Tampa Bay. They have a starting pitcher that needs to be traded and they’re desperate for catching & hitting.
        One more trade and the top of the Nats system is completely gone.

      2. According to BR, Span’s WAR was actually 4.8 last year with nearly half of that coming from his defense. Unless Meyer develops into a front line starter at some point, this was a huge plus-trade for the Nats.

      3. Span is a two or three tool player. Harper, Goodwin, and Brown are five tool players. Span is a better, more reliable, stable version of Nyjer Morgan. His contract makes him easy to trade if one of the players above supplant him in center field. Yes, even Brown, anything is possible and Brown was a highly ranked prospect in the A’s system.

        All in all its a good move by Mike Rizzo. Span doesn’t block the future with another Werthian contract.

        And let’s face it, it also adds a bit more backup and insurance to the possibility that Jason Werth’s skills will begin to decline on a steeper slope as he ages and suffers more injuries.

        Span does not appear to be a Davey Johnson type of CF. He appears to the be the type that Rizzo prefers. If Span can’t deliver, from Davey’s perspective the FO has provide a high level of talent as back up just in case.

          1. Brown just turned 27. Not 28. They said the same thing about Michael Morse. As I recall you might have been one of those very, very foolish who ended up looking very stupid who said Morse was a AAAA player. Right?

  3. I think this is a precursor to more that’s still coming. Meyer was a top prospect its not like Rizzo to trade a prospect of that caliber for an average CF like Span even if he does bat left. He’s Nyjer Morgan with better makeup. Bourn for a lot less money. Not sure this trade is an improvement over Harper continuing to develop there leaving a slot open for another run producing bat.

    As it is Span bats first and Rendon will likely hit 2nd when he’s ready for the majors. After that they still need another decent left-handed presence beyond Harper. Espinosa? Maybe but …

    1. I agree that more moves are coming. Lots of trade chips to play especially if LaRoche resigns. Nats definately need LaRoche’s left handed power in lineup. His defense is super important too for a club based on pitching. That’s one important reason why they acquired Span for cf. Now lots of left handed outfielders to package with Morse or Moore and one of the 29 catchers they have. Bernadino, Brown, Komo all are adding in a trade. So is Eury Perez. Rizzo will find a way to get more pitching. Either another starter or a power arm for the bullpen.

      1. Exactly. I think what I like about this trade are those kind of “contingencies” that are gonna keep the Nats a step ahead of the game. Don’t sign LaRoche? Morse moves to first. Do sign LaRoche… Morse is trade bait.

        Even ALR aside, Johnson no longer “has” to use Werth in the leadoff spot. I have a feeling Harper will still bat 2nd, though I could definitely see Desmond used there eventually once Harper drops into the 3-6 range in the lineup.

        Defensively, this is a coup. Moving Harper to left will be an upgrade and more importantly less wear and tear, especially if folks can’t talk him out of trying to become the 5th member of the 40-40 club.

        1. Let’s hope you’re right. I think he has enough on his plate trying to get to the point to bat 4th and hit .400. At least that’s his plan according to Davey.

          Harper needs to focus on becoming a professional hitter most especially if the lose the left-handed bat of LaRoche.

  4. I’ve felt all along that the Nats would set themselves up to make a trade with Tampa Bay, the most likely targets being Shields or Hellickson. Price would likely be too pricey and Moore out of the question from Tampa’s perspective. Nats have a number of players that the Rays would like such as Morse, Moore, Espinosa, Goodwin. I don’t mean all of these, of course.

    1. They aren’t going to trade Espinosa unless Rizzo gets Price in a deal straight up.

      In a system now bereft of talent below the top 5 prospects and few position players who are elite outside of Rendon? Espinosa and his huge ceiling stand alone.

      Given the recent moves? And what parts of the plan the FO have unveiled to date? Espinosa isn’t going anywhere for 2 or 3 years.

  5. Much like last year’s deal for Gio, you have to pay to play

    Is Meyer a premium for Span? Sure

    But the Nationals are in a win over the next two years mode and settling the CF concern is worth the gamble on Meyer developing into a frontline SP (I still view him more as a RHRP).

    The story is all hinged on whether the Nats can win a WS. If they do with Span & Gio, does it really matter whether AJ Cole, Derek Norris, and Alex Meyer turn into major league regulars or not?

    1. Yep, and the Nats like to keep things very, very close to the vest. Its not just Rizzo and Doug Harris. It starts with ownership and Ted Lerner. He isn’t getting any younger. And he was the guy who jumped out there trying to the get top players like Texiera and Grienke. Now, those players and their agents are going to listen when Ted comes a calling.

      It sure feels like the Nats win the Grienke sweepstakes. If that happens then the possibility of a world series appearance should basically be raised to the highest possible probability.

  6. pdowdy88 it looks like you and I (Tegwar) were correct that the Nat’s would pursue a CF in 2013. I’ll give you the credit for putting Span’s name in play first.

    It really didn’t take any great incite, Rizzo had shown an interest in Span before and the Nats lead-off was really bad before Werth was put in that position, something that didn’t look like a long term answer to me.

    This is the type of trade that a team that thinks the right pieces might just put it over the top makes.

    I now look for Rizzo to add a big, healthy 200 inning pitcher either by trade or FA.

    The ALR situation will probably be decided soon with Rizzo finding out what he can get for Morse paired up against how long and how much ALR will cost. ALR is a little more of a Rizzo guy but I don’t think he will give Morse away either. It will be interesting to see how it plays out and I think we will get the answer soon.

      1. Its not the money. That isn’t the issue. Its the years. Given the details of Zimmerman’s shoulder injury is it any wonder? Factor in the fact that outside of the Natosphere objective sources (not just NFA_Brian) consider Anthony Rendon an elite fielder at third base as well as an elite hitter? Potentially a superstar in the offing? They are going to move Zim to first base sooner or later. One more injury and I believe its going to be much sooner.

  7. I still think we could easily see LaRoche re-signed and Morse coming north as a 4th OF/back-up 1B who could still get enough AB

    Then, he could be a trade chip in May/June when you could potentially get a better deal from a team who suffers a injury at DH or 1B

    Would it really hurt the Nationals to store Tyler Moore in Syracuse until they found the ‘right’ deal?

    1. Normally I’d agree and Morse has proven quite adept as a bench bat. But, it isn’t like he hasn’t had his injury issues the past 2 years. And even before he came to the Nats from Seattle, and now he is over 30.

      Plus, they’ve got to start transitioning Zim to first base in lieu of Rendon.

      I like Michael Morse, and everyone knows I am a huge fan but I think, unfortunately, he gets traded and the Nats might have to wait to replace/get his power production from their younger players. That means Moore, Desmond, Harper with a nice injury-free year from Zim. I think Werth has lost his 20 HR power capability to age.

  8. Luke – where do you see this dropping the Nats system in the eyes of the various pundits, like Sickels, etc? I am guessing mid 20’s. In past years, that would be a bummer, but if that is how it plays out now, it wouldn’t be terrible. It is logical for a system that has graduated a good amount of players to the majors (with us and with other teams), and also for a fairly young team with controllable players at most spots. Plus, there is a chance for upside next year just through recovery of some of the injured SPs look like they have recovered.

      1. Brian – seems like that would be best case, although I was surprised to see Keith Law call Skole a ‘fringy prospect’ in his chat yesterday. Usually it is ‘org guy’!

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