Span for Storen?
Before We Begin
Scroll down to see last nightís Minor League Scoreboard. Also, I will be on the Paul Allen Show this morning on KFAN, I believe at 10:20. We will be taping the segment head of time because my morning is jam-packed, but be sure to listen in and let me know what you think!
By the way, the Twins got a very nice win over the Rangers last night. Brian Duensing was excellent again, keeping the Rangersí hitters off-balance. It was great to see Joe Mauer turn on an inside fastball for his first home run of the year. It was nice to see Michael Cuddyer unload on a hanging slider. And then with a 4-1 lead with two outs in the top of the 9th, it was fun to see the Twins score three more times, on a long, bases-clearing double by Jason Kubel. Matt Capps and Glen Perkins were excellent out of the bullpen. After that 20-6 debacle, and then falling behind the Rangers 7-3 on Tuesday night, it was great to see the Twins come back and win that one and then play a really terrific game on Wednesday. With the win, the Twins climbed to six games back again in the Central. It could be an interesting next four days! The White Sox bolstered their bullpen, but to do so, they traded Edwin Jackson, who has an ERA below four, so Iím not sure what to make of that deal. Were they buying, or were they selling? They also benched Alex Rios for Alejandro de Aza, who was the Marlins Opening Day starting CF in 2007 and who, until last night, had never hit a big league home run in 86 games and 217 plate appearances. The AL Central will be a lot of fun to follow again the last two months of the season!
The Main Story: Span for Storen?
Where there is smoke, there is usually at least a little fire, right? For at least a week, we have heard that the Nationals are targeting Twins centerfielder Denard Span. Originally reports indicated that they wanted Span, but would be unwilling to deal relievers Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen. Yesterday came the report that the Nationals may be willing to include Storen in the package to get Span. That set off Twitter throughout Wednesday afternoon.
I am pretty sure that The Twins Geek is the only one who thinks that Span for Storen, straight up, would be a good idea. Check out his reasoning.
To get something, you have to give something up. I get that. I understand that.
I fully admit that part of the reason for my dislike in that deal, if one-for-one, is last yearís trade between the Nationals and the Twins. The Twins received a ďproven closerĒ in Matt Capps for a Top 5 prospect at a demanding position. We all understood that Joe Mauer was signed for eight more years, but we also knew that the demands of the position meant that he would potentially move, or at the very least we would see the scenario where Mauer plays some 1B and DHs and having a talent like Ramos would sure be nice.
I agree with The Geek in that Drew Storen is not Matt Capps. When the Twins acquired Capps, he was the second worst closer statistically in all of baseball when looking at statistics other than ďSaves.Ē If memory serves, Chad Qualls was the only worse closer in the game at the time. In fact, the Nationals were thrilled to trade Capps so that they could get Storen into the closerís role. And to be fair, Matt Capps was very good in 2010. I admit that he is a good relief pitcher most of the time, but not the kind of guy that you give up a top prospect for. Drew Storen is 23 years old, is 5-2 with 25 saves and a 2.37 ERA and a WHIP of 0.93. He is very good. He was the 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft (in part due to the fact that the Nationals knew he would sign instantly). He made his big league debut less than a year later, on May 17, 2010. He has been in the big leagues ever since. Iím not sure why the Nationals didnít wait an extra three weeks to call him up so he would not be a Super 2 after 2012, but that is a choice they made.
I really like Drew Storen and I would love for him to be the Twins closer for the next five years or more. However, there is also a reason that the Nationals have made Storen available (maybe) in a deal for Span. Span has a career line of .289/.366/.375. Most important as a leadoff hitter is that .366 on-base percentage. He posted OPS over .800 his first two seasons and struggled in 2010. He was mentioned as a Twins all-star representative this season until his concussion knocked him out. But the Nationals, like many teams, want a prototypical leadoff hitter. Span has good on-base skills, can steal 25 or more bases, and he can play a very good centerfield defense. And, as much as I like Storen, Span will play 145 or more games each year. Storen may pitch one inning in 60 games. Sure, in a dozen or so, that one inning may be coming in to a game with a one-run lead and no one on and no one out in the Bottom of the 9th.
Span is signed to a very team-friendly contract. He is set to make $3 million in 2012, $4.75 million in 2013, $6.5 million in 2014 and there is a club option at $9 million for 2015 (with a $0.5 million buyout).
Storen will make about $420,000 this year. He will make about $450,000 in 2012. He most likely will be a Super-2 free agent in 2013, and if heís a successful closer until that time, he will likely jump to a price somewhere north of $3 million in 2014. He would then go up from there as he would be arbitration-eligible in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Trading a top prospect for a mediocre (at best) closer was crazy. Trading a proven, productive middle-of-the-field position player for a closer, even a good, exciting, talented one, is just too much for me. Especially for a guy like Span who, like Michael Cuddyer, represents the Twins very well, with class and dignity.
Now, as I discussed on Twitter, I am not against a deal. However, if the Twins are to consider trading Span, they should be blown away. I said that I would be OK with trading Span to the Nationals for Storen, RHP Brad Peacock, and 2B Steve Lombardozzi.
Yes, Lombardozzi is the son of the 1987 World Champion Minnesota Twins Steve Lombardozzi. The 22 year old was the Nationals 19th round pick in 2008 out of high school in Maryland, where he was also quite the basketball player. He has quickly risen through the Nationalsí minor league ranks. He began 2011 in Double-A where he hit .309/.366/.454 with 12 doubles, seven triples and four home runs in 65 games before being promoted to Triple-A. In 34 games at that level, he has hit .324/.368/.441 with eight doubles and three home runs. No, heís not a shortstop, but the Twins inability to produce middle infielders tells me that getting one that can hit like this would be a good thing. Yes, Twins fans, I know it will take awhile, but this Lombardozzi can hit!
Brad Peacoack was the Nationals 41st round pick in 2006 out of high school in Florida. Heís had to work his way up through the system, but he has had a big year in 2011 and is still just 23 years old. He began this season in Double-A where he went 10-2 with a 2.01 ERA. In 98.2 innings, he walked just 23 and struck out 129. Last night, he made his third start at Triple-A Syracuse and carried a no-hitter into the 8th inning against Columbus. He gave up just one hit in seven innings and struck out seven. His fastball sits between 92 and 94 and frequently hits 96. I would say a Triple-A rotation including Kyle Gibson, Liam Hendriks, eventually David Bromberg, and Brad Peacock would be pretty exciting for Twins fans.
Obviously the Nationals arenít trade Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper to get Denard Span. Catcher Derek Norris would be nice to get too. But I think a deal of Span for Storen, Lombardozzi and Peacock would be what the Twins should hope for. In fact, Iíd even throw in a third-tier Twins prospect into the mix.
That said, I just have a hard time trading Denard Span unless you can get a package like the one I listed above. I like Ben Revere as much as anyone, and I think that in time, he will be a very good on-base guy for the Twins, Span is already there, plus with pop. My other fear is that if the Twins trade Span, will they keep Delmon Young? Does that deal mean anything in regard to potentially bringing back Michael Cuddyer and/or Jason Kubel?
However, if the Twins acquire Storen and make him their closer for the next five years, the team would not have to bring back Matt Capps and Joe Nathanís option would not be picked up. That is a lot of money off of the books to be used other places. (Hat Tip to Travis Aune for pointing that out). Thatís why I say, Iím not completely against trading Span if the Twins get Storen and more.
And, if Denard Span isnít activated from the Disabled List before Sunday, he canít be traded anyway, so all this angst may be for naught. (UPDATE - thanks to the comments section, I was reminded that a player on the DL can be traded with the commissioner's approval. The example was Jake Peavy to the White Sox a couple of years ago.)