It only took two years, but the Nationals finally completed their long quest to land underrated (in my opinion) Twins Centerfielder Denard Span. But they did have to give up one of their big prospects. And I mean big literally, in the form of 6’9″ pitcher Alex Meyer. So who got the better of this trade? Let’s analyze:
When the Twins/Nats first tried to execute this trade, it involved all-star closer Drew Storen and 2B Steve Lombardozzi for Span. That was back in the day when the Twins were in desperate need of bullpen help and thought Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn and Francisco Liriano would be stalwarts of their rotation for years to come. (Someone in Minnesota’s front office must’ve eaten hallucinogenic bratwurst or something.)
Today’s trade basically tells me the Twins have already given up on competing in 2013. Why else would you trade away your starting CF/leadoff hitter for a guy who won’t help until probably 2014 at the earliest? Especially with several other teams apparently interested in Span. I’m guessing at least one of them was offering a more major league ready pitcher than Meyer to help address the hazmat area known as the Twins’ rotation. Plus, this trade allows the Nats to keep Storen, which shores up their shallow bullpen, and also Lombardozzi, who has proven to be a valuable utility infielder. So in that sense, this trade is better for the Nats.
Meyer does have the chance to be really good. He’s huge, throws in the high 90′s and has a plus slider and curveball. Yes, he’s only had one year in the minors (reaching high-A ball) but potentially, he could be the number one starter the Twins have been looking for since they gave Johan Santana to the Mets for a duffel bag of used bat donuts and Keith Hernandez‘ autograph. With Ben Revere, and top prospect Aaron Hicks waiting in the wings, the Twins have plenty of speedy outfielders who can replace Span. So Minnesota basically traded from a position of strength and potentially grabbed an ace starter. Sounds like a win for the Twins.
However, if there is one team who can afford to trade a potential frontline starter it’s the Nationals. They already have Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Gio Gonzalez. John Lannan would be a number 3-4 starter on most teams … but he might start the season in triple-A for Washington. That’s how scary deep the Nats’ rotation should be in 2013.
Span gives Washington the leadoff hitter they’ve lacked since Marquis Grissom (and the whole franchise) left Montreal. Plus this trade allows Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth to move to the corner outfield spots where they’re more comfortable and makes way for Michael Morse to play First. They received all that for one pitcher who may one day be a great major leaguer—but isn’t yet. The Nationals barely got the better of this trade … by one of Werth’s sideburn hairs.