The Span Trade – Spanning… the Trade?


Textbook Quad stretch. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Clever titles aside, the Denard Span trade has been all the rage.  First, the Twins traded one of their best players.  Span was an underrated player, and someone who will give the Nationals great at bats and steady, rangy center field play.  Second, the Twins acquired a player unlike any player they have ever had.  Alex Meyer has a fastball that can hit triple digits!  I mean, it is the lowest of all numbers with three digits, but it is still really impressive.  He does not fit the traditional Twins mold, which is something that many fans have to be excited about.  Finally, this trade somehow came out of nowhere.  It was the week before the Winter Meetings.  While Span was long rumored to be on Washington’s X-Mas Holiday (sensitivity!) wish list, I hadn’t seen any rumors of a potential trade right now.  I had seen Span linked to Cincinnati, Atlanta and Tampa Bay, but not Warshington.  In addition, I’m not sure anyone expected a pure 1 player for 1 player trade involving Span and a prospect.

So…  WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!!?!?!>!>!!?!?!??!

Calm down.

By my intense calculations, this trade has 4 specific ramifications on the 2013 AL Central Division Participant Minnesota Twins.  A good teacher provides an outline or study guide, so here is mine:

1.  Ben Revere inherits the leadoff spot and center field and Chris Parmelee inherits right field.

2.  The Twins have some level of trust in Aaron Hicks and/or Joe Benson.

3.  Alex Meyer is being dispatched to reign down fury on the entire state of Connecticut.

4.  Terry Ryan tacitly admits that 2013 contention is in doubt.

Let’s tackle these in reverse order:

4.  Terry Ryan tacitly admits that 2013 contention is in doubt.

Honestly, this has been true since the beginning of 2012.  Carl Pavano, Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano were unsigned after 2012.  That’s only 60% of the rotation, you know.  Even if all three signed for 2013, there would have been major questions.  Instead, they are all gone (as of right now, but Liriano could be on his way back, in what can only be described as “a total troll move.”) and the replacements are literally replacement level players.

Even with a bulk of free agent pitchers available, it is very difficult to build 80% of a starting rotation.  Sure, we can all instruct Ryan to sign Zack Greinke, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Dempster and Rich Harden, but actually doing that is quite challenging.  Perhaps, Ryan could set every other GM’s alarm clock to late February, and hope they all oversleep.  Unlikely.  The reality is that a whole mess of teams need pitching.  If the Twins even sign one quality free agent, we should be happy.  Odds are, they won’t.

BUT!  That does lead me to point number 3.

3.  Alex Meyer is being dispatched to reign down fury on the entire state of Connecticut.

This point assumes that Meyer will be assigned to Class AA New Britain to play for the Class AA New Britain Rock Cats.  He seems ready.  This also assumes that Meyer will dominate said Class AA league with his super fastball and super slider.  Sure, he has things to work on, but he is also a super prospect and one that fans should be super excited to see develop.  As he develops, we can hope that he assumes his rightful place at the top of prospect rankings.  I mean, he is 6′ 9″ and should be able to climb faster than those with shorter bodies.  In addition, I bet he can dunk.

If Meyer shows that he can dominate in AA, he could end up in AAA or even the MLB by the end of the season.  Fans should not expect dominance in a Twins uniform right away, but should he maintain the command of his pitches, there is no reason he can’t be one of the most exciting players on the horizon.  If nothing else, he gives the Twins a potential number 1 starter down the line.  At this time last week, the Twins did not have a pitcher like that.  Which is nice.

Speaking of exciting players…

2.  The Twins have some level of trust in Aaron Hicks and/or Joe Benson.

Do not confuse this statement with these two things:  a) Ron Gardenhire has some level of trust in these two players, or b) One or both of these two players will be on the Opening Day MLB roster.  It is entirely possible that these two comprise 2/3rds of the Rochester outfield (a killer defensive outfield if they are both there) to start the year.  However, the organizational depth would dictate that these are the two guys who are next in line.

It is easy to forget about Benson, after his abysmal and injury-filled 2012, but this guy has tools that Tim Allen would be jealous of.  I’m pretty sure Home Improvement references are still cool.  Hicks had a great 2012, took a huge step forward in AA and likely will be in the MLB during 2013, if there are no steps taken backward.  If Revere, Parmelee or Josh Willingham are injured, one of these guys will need to spend decent time with the MLB club.  Darin Mastroianni can fill the void temporarily, but is best suited as a 4th outfielder over the course of a season.   If Revere is injured, either Benson or Hicks can handle center field, which is not something to overrate.

Another great Quad stretch. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Which brings me to my final point.

1.  Ben Revere inherits the leadoff spot and center field and Chris Parmelee inherits right field.

I’m not sure how I feel about this.  Revere is no Span.  He could get there, but he would have to add significant power and on-base percentage (OBP).  Revere sees pitches, and makes good contact, but his OBP is heavily dependent on his batting average.  This could lead to some wild variation based on luck.  Case in point, his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) in 2011 was .293, lower than would be expected from someone with his speed.  As a result, he hit .267 and had an OBP of .310.  Those are terrible numbers in tandem.  In 2012, his BABIP jumped to .325 and his average jumped to .294 while his OBP was a respectable .333.

Span’s OBP was consistently good because he drew a good deal of walks and could overcome a bad BABIP year.  Revere’s season could play out in a few ways.  He could have crazy good luck, combined with his speed, and post a BABIP around .355.  If you correlate that with his other numbers, he could end up with a .325 batting average and an OBP around .360.  That would be dynamic.  He could have crazy bad luck, and post a BABIP around .265.  Now we are looking at a batting average around .235 and an OBP in the area of .280.  This is very unlikely with his speed, as he can get a lot of infield hits, but it does represent his downside.  The third option is somewhere in between, which is most likely.

Regardless of his BABIP, one thing is nearly certain.  Revere will have no power to speak of.  He barely has doubles power.  If he ever hits an over the fence home run, the World may explode.  His lack of power really limits his upside, especially in a bad luck season.

Chris Parmelee deserves an opportunity.  Well, I guess he does.  September of 2011 says that he does.  His 2012 AAA numbers says that he does.  The rest of his career doesn’t scream, “LET’S FIND A SPOT FOR THIS FUTURE MVP.”  With a team trending downward, it doesn’t hurt to give a youngish guy a chance.  If he can provide 15-25 home runs and play any form of non-Delmon defense, then he can have value while he is pre-arbitration eligible.

I’m not convinced he can provide that.  He got moved around a lot last year, but did end with about a third of a season’s worth of at bats.  His OBP was under .300, he only hit 5 home runs and he struck out in over a quarter of his at bats.

It was certainly an interesting move.  It came out of center field (HAHAHAHAHA) and surprised a great deal of people.  Denard Span will make Washington better in 2013.  Alex Meyer could make the Twins significantly better in 2015.  You have to give something to get something, and it seems that the Twins got something pretty interesting.