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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Umm, Let's Keep Denard

With the July 31 trade deadline, rumors are spiraling regarding a Twins outfielder. Not Delmon Young, not Michael Cuddyer, and not RF/DH Jason Kubel. Not even Jason Repko! Surprisingly, the rumors are targeting center fielder Denard Span.

If the rumors have merit, the proposed trade has Span going to the Washigton Nationals in exchange for Nationals' closer Drew Storen, who is pretty darn good and young, and I'm sure some other pieces. If you're like me, you gagged a little when you read "Washington Nationals," "trade," "Minnesota Twins," and "closer." Not that this proposed deal is anywhere near as bad as the deal that sent Wilson Ramos to Washington in exchange for Matt "belt high fastball or slider without movement down the middle of the plate" Capps, but if there's one team out of all the teams that maybe I don't want to make a deal with this year (unless the package is overwhelming), it's the Washington Nationals.

Of all our outfielders, the one to keep is Denard Span. Sure, he's injured now with a concussion, and there are no guarantees about his recovery. But it sounds like he's on the mend. Denard is still relatively young; he is signed to a team-friendly contract (5 years, $16.5 million); he is an above-average center fielder; he has the makeup of a very good leadoff hitter; he has good speed; he was having an All-Star 2011 season before his injury; by all measures, he has been an outstanding Twins citizen; and he seems like basically a nice guy. He is the piece of the outfield to build around for the next few years.

I have gone on the record indicating that I like Ben Revere's future in Minnesota, and I still stand by that statement. Yes, he has slowed down recently, with a pretty big slump and some defensive miscues. Let's not forget, though, that he is 23 and still seeing "the league" for the first time. If, in another year or two, he's still not drawing walks and hitting for a better average, maybe it will be time to pass him along to another team, but I like his upside. Instead of listening to offers for Span (unless, again, those offers are overwhelmingly great), the Twins should be listening to offers for Young or Kubel, if they really have no intention of signing either player after 2011. And Jason Repko.

But again, the Twins don't need to sell these players in exchange for scrap metal right now. The team is still in the hunt somehow, attendance is still solid at Target Field and will continue to be, so, unlike teams like Kansas City or Baltimore that are forced financially to give up each August, the Twins are not in such a situation. The bottom line is that Denard Span should not be moved unless the package is so great that it actually makes the Twins better in 2011. To be better in 2011, whomever the Twins receive would have to more than make up for the difference between having Span in CF, and having Revere there in his place.

I don't see such a package in the proposed Storen-Span trade, especially because Storen would only pitch 1 inning in games that the Twins are winning by 3 or fewer runs, whereas any every day player, and especially a center fielder that is also your leadoff hitter, will make thousands of more significant contributions during the course of a 162 game season. In the end, I hope that this particular trade rumor is just that, a rumor.

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