While it seems like a strange thought at first glance, trading away center fielder Denard Span isn’t that crazy of an idea for the Washington Nationals.
In the past couple of days, reports have surfaced that the Nationals are willing to listen to offers for the veteran outfielder. It isn’t known if any teams have contacted the Nationals, but it is still substantial news that they will entertain any offers thrown their way.
At first, I thought how insane it would be for the Nationals to trade away their leadoff hitter, Gold Glove-candidate center fielder and one of the leaders of this team. After giving it some thought, however, I can certainly understand why they would be open to making this kind of move.
Span has a lot of trade value. As mentioned, he was a finalist for the 2013 NL Gold Glove award after posting a perfect fielding percentage. In the second half of the season his bat caught up with his glove, and he began hitting the ball well and even went on a 27-game hitting streak. Trading Span could return some solid minor league prospects, something Mike Rizzo can’t seem to have enough of.
Furthermore, Span is entering the final year of his contract and is owed $5.6 million. In 2015, Washington will have to make a decision on his $9 million club option. Getting him off the books would save them some cash that they would be able to put towards free agency.
Speaking of free agency, that brings us to the second point why shopping Denard Span isn’t that insane of an idea. Currently on the market is Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury’s agent, Scott Boras, has a long history of deal making with Mike Rizzo, and that puts the Nationals at quite an advantage in signing him if they so wish.
Replacing Span with Ellsbury isn’t that bad of an idea. If you look past Ellsbury’s durability issues, as highlighted by my colleague Nick Comando, you’re not losing much in terms of talent and ability. Ellsbury hit .298 last season with an on-base percentage of .355 and 53 RBI. In the field he finished with a .992 fielding percentage, committing only three errors in 353 total chances.
It’s still early on in the process and the Nationals are only currently open to listening to offers, not necessarily trying to make a deal. If they decide to hang onto Denard Span it certainly won’t hurt the team. However, if general manager Mike Rizzo decides he wants to the pull the trigger and then go after Ellsbury, it’s not that bad of an idea, either.