Washington has been interested in obtaining a center fielder, and Span in particular, going back a couple of years. The trade allows Washington to use Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth on the corners. It also gives the club the option of using Michael Morse at first base, where their pursuit of free agent Adam LaRoche has been slow to materialize. If LaRoche is re-signed, Morse would likely be traded.
In Meyer, the Twins get an impressive right hander who stands 6’9″ and was the Nats’ first-round pick in 2011. Last year, in his first season as a pro, Meyer made 25 starts and pitched to a 2.86 ERA across two levels of Washington’s system. He struck out 139 hitters in 129 innings and is the kind of power arm the Twins lack throughout their system.
Beyond the hard nuts and bolts of these players, this trade will have a significant impact on the rest of the center field market. Washington was considered one of the possible landing spots for free agent Michael Bourn but they, like Atlanta, have now filled that hole. Bourn, who had been expected to command a contract approaching $100 million over five years, is now seeing his potential suitors vanish before his eyes.
As it stands today, the Phillies and Giants remain in the hunt for a center fielder and Bourn is still the best available, but the contracts tend to get smaller as fewer and fewer teams are involved in the bidding. Teams like Seattle and Texas could still get involved as both clubs have a need to supplement their offense. Josh Hamilton, viewed by many as more of a left field option, is very much in play for those teams as well.
For Minnesota, the trading of Span is the first move toward re-stocking the Twins’ talent pool. Despite being out of contention for two years running, Minnesota has held fast to virtually all of their veteran players, though they’ve drawn significant interest from teams across the league. Speedster Ben Revere will take over as Minnesota’s center fielder going forward. The deal also makes the road to the playoffs just a touch easier for the Detroit Tigers. Span holds a career .342 average when facing his now former AL Central rivals.