Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Span Extension

Another big extension for the Twins today (though still not Joe Mauer): Denard Span agreed to a 5-year, $16.5M contract that includes a $9M option for 2015. That adds him to a cost-controlled-through-2013 core of Justin Morneau, Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn. Based upon the value Span has already provided - Baseball Prospectus projects him to be worth at least 3.4 WARP/season throughout the duration of the deal - BP and FanGraphs are in agreement that he will provide a marginal value of $16M or so in every single year, including the option year. Six for the price of one sounds like a pretty good deal to me!

I also love this deal because it vindicates the faith I had in Span this time 2 years ago, when a lot of folks (including Gardy and Bill Smith) were in love with Carlos Gomez. While Gomez still has plenty of work to do to become a complete player, Span is already a standout. Though he still could stand to improve upon his CF defense and his SB efficiency. He seems like he has the determination and makeup to do that, so I'm excited to see how much better he can become over the next few seasons as he enters his peak years.

This very cost-effective deal has to add to a growing pile of evidence that the Twins intend to be competitive for the long haul - something we all hope will convince Mauer to quit stalling and finally commit to staying in MN for the foreseeable future.

The other major implication of this is that, as will be the case when Mauer finally signs and renders top C prospect Wilson Ramos expendable, this deal makes Ben Revere a redundant part of the Twins' system. Aaron Hicks and his cannon arm can move Span to LF eventually, but with the all-around tools that Angel Morales and Joe Benson have, (to say nothing of Delmon Young) I don't see a need to have 2 lefty, slappy speedsters in the lineup. It might be comfortable to keep Revere around as a credible backup to Span for the next couple of years. But I'm not sure that his value will ever be higher than it is now. BP's Kevin Goldstein ranked him as the #46 prospect in baseball (though Revere just missed the BA list). If I were the Twins, I'd be inquiring about trading him for a comparable MI prospect.

Just as one example, the Rays have Jason Bartlett under team control for the next couple of seasons, and the #1 overall pick in 2008, SS Tim Beckham, starting at A+ this year. That situation has blocked Reid Brignac, like Revere, a 4-star prospect. Brignac plays plus defense and has plus power. He could be moved to 2B and groomed to take over for Orlando Hudson in 2011, while providing depth for Hudson and JJ Hardy this year. The Rays will almost certainly lose LF speedster Carl Crawford to free agency, opening up a spot for another leadoff hitter with wheels. Revere's glove would be a plus in LF, and his arm would play better there than in CF. An exchange of former 1st-rounders who are blocked in their present organizations - could be a win-win.

Of course, the Twins could also try to deal Revere for a 4-star pitcher (can't have too many of those!). Or they could hold on to him and package him with Ramos in order to land a true Ace starter during the season. Whatever they decide, I think the Span deal pretty much ensures that Revere is going to play the bulk of his career somewhere other than MN.

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