Nationals get Span from Twins for minor leaguer

WASHINGTON (AP) - With the addition of Denard Span, the Washington Nationals aren’t just plugging a player into the lineup and moving on. He’s like that nice new piece of furniture that causes the homeowner to redecorate the entire room _ just so everything is in the perfect spot.

The Nationals acquired the center fielder from the Minnesota Twins for minor league pitcher Alex Meyer on Thursday, setting off a chain reaction for the reigning NL East champions.

With Span in center, 20-year-old Bryce Harper moves to a corner spot _ probably left field, with Jayson Werth staying in right. Michael Morse could then move to first base _ the position played by free-agent slugger Adam LaRoche.

Also, with Span hitting leadoff, Werth drops a few spots in the batting order. And with either Morse or LaRoche seemingly on the way out, Harper could move down in the lineup as well.

All for a player who hit .284 with 90 steals and a .357 on-base percentage during five seasons with the Twins _ the type of player the Nationals have been seeking since moving to Washington in 2005.

“He’s going to bring a dimension to the club that we haven’t had before,” general manager Mike Rizzo said, “a fast-moving, exciting guy that makes contact and moves the guy around and can fly around the field.”

Harper is also fast-moving and can fly around the field _ although he hits with much more power than Span and is a converted catcher. Harper had some adventures in center field this season but was also a sparkplug, doing enough with his bat and glove to win the NL’s Rookie of the Year award.

Nevertheless, the Nationals have always wanted to move him one spot over.

“He’s a terrific young center fielder,” Rizzo said. “But we felt for his long-term development and his career path that we wanted to move him out of a taxing position of center field, both mentally taxing and physically taxing. We’ve accomplished that.”

Werth also seemed a bit out of place as a leadoff hitter. He selflessly handled the role just fine this year, but he was there essentially by default because there wasn’t a better option.

“I think his best skillset is farther down,” Rizzo said, “in a run-producing type of spot.”

As for the first base dilemma, Rizzo said the team is still in talks with LaRoche and has entertained some trade queries about Morse, so either player could end up there next season.

“It gives us some options in dealing with our roster,” Rizzo said.

Span’s name has surfaced in trade rumors for much of the past two years, including some interest from the Nationals in 2010. He asserted himself as one of the Twins‘ building blocks in 2009 and 2010, emerging as a quality leadoff hitter and versatile outfielder.

Span is entering the fourth year of a $16.5 million, five-year contract with a $9 million club option for a sixth year. His deal was considered quite a bargain for the Twins given Span’s production in the first two seasons, but he only played in 70 games in 2011 because of issues with concussions and migraines, then worked to revamp his diet and workout regimen to try to better manage the situation.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • **FILE** In this April 23, 2013 photo, Cuba's former pitcher Conrado Marrero, the world's oldest living former major league baseball player, holds up a baseball with his signature at his home, two days before is 102nd birthday, as he holds an unlit cigar in his mouth in Havana, Cuba. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)

    Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday

  • Washington Wizards guard John Wall, left, and Bradley Beal celebrate the Wizards' 101-99 win as Chicago Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich walks off the court after missing two free throws during the overtime period of Game 2 in an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, April 22, 2014, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

    HARRIS: D.C. not yet spellbound by Wizards, but they’re no illusion

  • Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III watches Baylor and Central Florida play during the first half of the Fiesta Bowl NCAA college football game, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2014, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

    Robert Griffin III to drive pace car before Richmond NASCAR race

  • Washington Wizards forward Nene, left, guards Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer during the first half in Game 1 of an opening-round NBA basketball playoff series in Chicago, Sunday, April 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

    Early returns show projections of physical Wizards-Bulls series were correct

  • Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) celebrates after catching a 25 yard touchdown in the first quarter as the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles in Monday Night NFL football at FedExField, Landover, Md., Monday, September 9, 2013. (Andrew Harnik/The Washington Times)

    Dan Snyder: DeSean Jackson ‘really a good guy’

  • Celebrities In The News
  • ** FILE ** In this March 19, 2013, file photo, Justin Bieber performs during a concert at Bercy Arena in Paris. (AP Photo/Francois Mori, File)

    Justin Bieber apologizes for Japan war shrine trip

  • FILE - This Jan. 8, 2014 file photo shows singer Chris Brown, right, arriving at the District of Columbia Superior Court in Washington. After a brief postponement, singer Chris Brown's trial on an assault charge is scheduled to begin in Washington. Brown's trial had been set for Monday but was delayed while lawyers tried to work out whether his bodyguard will testify. It's unclear whether the trial will start Wednesday, as Brown's lawyers seem to want, or if further legal maneuvering will delay it.  (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

    Chris Brown assault trial delayed again

  • Justin Bieber seeks delay in Fla. DUI trial