The Washington Nationals have finally got the leadoff hitter they have been looking for just days before the MLB Winter Meetings, acquiring Minnesota Twins center fielder Denard Span in a trade for top minor league prospect Alex Meyer.
The 28-year old center fielder hit .283 last year with a .342 on-base percentage. Span has plenty of speed and will have no problems covering center field for the Nationals. Span has stolen 90 bases in his five-year career. Span is another left handed bat in a lineup that is looking more and more potent going into 2013.
The Nationals were reportedly interested in Span in 2011, however he was at the time suffering from concussion symptoms. He has been cleared, and had a productive season for the Twins in 2012.
The trade will now move Bryce Harper from center to one of the corner outfield positions. The starting outfield of Harper, Span, and Jayson Werth gives the Nationals three outfielders that can all play center.
Sources say that the Twins wanted closer Drew Storen in return for Span, but that offer was quickly rejected by GM Mike Rizzo. The Twins accepted the offer for Meyer, the 2011 first-round pick of the Nationals. The hard-throwing right hander out of Kentucky has the potential to be top of line starter in the future for the Twins. The outlook for Meyer seems to be a year or two away, enough for the Nationals to let him go for the immediate starting center fielder.
With the assortment of riches the Nationals seem to have, it puts into question the direction the team has in re-signing first baseman Adam LaRoche.
The addition of Span essentially bumps Michael Morse out of a starting outfield spot. Morse can play 1st base and would play if LaRoche does not return. The same issue centers around outfielder Tyler Moore, a young talent that the Nationals are very high on. Moore played in the outfield as well in 2012, and played 1st base when LaRoche was resting or injured.
If the Nationals do sign Adam LaRoche, expect the Nationals to make another move by possibly trading Morse or Moore. The Nationals continue to look for a 5th starter in the rotation and bullpen, lefties in particular.
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