In a season where small victories matter, including tying the Cleveland Indians for fourth place in the American League Central with a 7-2 victory on Monday night, the Minnesota Twins will take any good news they can get. Some good vibes look to be coming in the next few days, as outfielder Denard Span is on track to return from the disabled list on Wednesday after taking batting practice without issue over the weekend.
Span suffered an injury to his shoulder and collarbone in mid-August, sat out for over a week before returning for four games, then was finally placed on the disabled list on August 30. The situation seemed to be miscalculated and mishandled on both sides, but Span certainly wants to return to action in order to finish the season strongly despite there being little to gain at this point in the season.
Span is hitting .286 with 35 RBI, 32 doubles, 14 stolen bases and a .349 on-base percentage over 488 plate appearances this season as the Twins’ primary leadoff hitter and center fielder. He is also an above-average defensive outfielder, so his return is certainly welcome.
But Span has been the subject of trade rumors over the last couple years, and with the Twins having a clear replacement for him in Ben Revere those trade winds will not go away anytime soon. The team also has a relative influx of outfielders both at the big league level and in the upper levels of their minor league system, so Span looks like a tradeable asset heading into 2013. His recent injury history, including a concussion in 2011, is likely to be a concern for other teams and could have an impact on what the Twins can get for him in a trade. If he can prove he is healthy over the final few weeks of the season those durability concerns, assuming those concerns exist, could largely go away.
Span is under contract through 2014, at relatively affordable salaries of $4.75 million in 2013 and $6.5 million in 2014, and also has a $9 million team option for 2015. That may make him desirable to other teams, but may also make the Twins unwilling to part with him and could elevate his value in their eyes. In any case, Span should be toward the top of the list of players general manager Terry Ryan looks to move this winter as he attempts to reshape the roster for 2013.