The Washington Nationals have been after Denard Span for a few years now, and on Thursday they finally got their man, acquiring the Minnesota Twins outfielder for right-handed pitching prospect Alex Meyer.
Links about the trade:
- Dave Cameron calls the deal a "steal" for the Nationals, saying "Meyer’s a bit of a lottery ticket. Legitimate upside, legitimate concerns about his future role, and at least another year of development before he’s ready to contribute in Minnesota."
- La Velle E. Neal III of the Minnesota Star Tribune plays up Meyer's potential as a "future staff ace" and quotes Twins GM as saying, "we are trying to be competitive" in reference to the 2013 season, which we all know is a bold-faced lie. It doesn't make this a bad trade in and of itself, but teams don't trade quality players in their prime who have reasonable contracts and team control if they are trying to be competitive in the upcoming season.
- John Sickels of MinorLeagueBall.com has the background info on Meyer, saying "he's likely the best pitching prospect in the Twins minor league system now."
- Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com calls the price for Span "steep," but doesn't expect the Nationals to regret it.
This is a great trade for the Nationals, who acquire a player who fits their exact needs (a true center fielder and leadoff hitter) who is in his prime and has a team friendly contract. It's not a terrible trade for the Twins, but it could turn out to be one.
The Twins have the right idea here, and this is the first of what should be a number of deals in which they flip veterans for prospects. They also have Josh Willingham under a team-friendly contract and should get a strong return for him.
But they'll have to do better than they did with Span.
Alex Meyer is a good pitching prospect, but Span was perhaps their best trade chip and there's a chance they could end up with nothing for him. Meyer still has a ways to go in his development and needs a better third pitch. It's a very achievable goal, but there's a 50-50 shot he ends up as a reliever. If he does, then this is a disaster for the Twins.
If he does develop into a solid starter, however, this could be a nice deal for the Twins. Pairing up Meyer with Kyle Gibson at the top of their 2014-15 rotation could be formidable.
But there's a long way to go between now and then and too much can go wrong. The Twins needed to get something a little more tangible back for Span, in addition to Meyer, or make a deal with another team. There was plenty of interest.
As it is, the real outcome of this trade rests on the development a 6'9" pitcher with a mid-90's fastball and a big slider, which is a good start for the Twins, but also has the potential to leave them empty-handed.