According to a host of reports, the Washington Nationals have acquired centerfielder Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for righthanded pitching prospect Alex Meyer.
Span, who will be 29 at the start of the 2013 season, is an average to maybe somewhat above-average starting centerfielder, who is contract through 2014 with a team option for 2015. Meyer was the Nationals' first round draft choice in the 2011 draft, #23 overall, and is a 6'9" righthander who throws hard but who has questions surrounding his ability to stay in the rotation. He's of the high-risk, high-reward type, a potential top of the rotation starter if his mechanics and changeup come along, a guy who could flame out if they don't.
Last offseason, Jim Bowden proposed a Denard Span for Martin Perez deal, which I dismissed as one-sided in Minnesota's favor on the heels of a pair of sub-par seasons by Span. A year later, after a bounceback campaign which was arguably Span's best season in the majors, the Twins deal him for a pitching prospect who I think is probably a little lower than Perez on the prospect charts.
A couple of interesting ramifications of this deal, from the Rangers perspective...first, Washington has been talked about as a potential dark-horse candidate to sign Josh Hamilton. This deal means that Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper are locked into the corner outfield spots, so there's no room for Hamilton.
Secondly, it means that Adam LaRoche, supposedly a player of interest for the Rangers, would appear to be less likely to return to Washington, with Mike Morse replacing him at first base. If the Nats do re-sign LaRoche -- and there are indications that they are still interested -- then Morse would be on the market as a trade target, and is someone I could see the Rangers going after.
Third, it means that one of the teams that was in the market for a centerfielder in what was already considered to be a buyer's market for centerfielders is no longer in the market for a centerfielder. B.J. Upton is off the board to Atlanta, Span is now in Washington, and Hamilton, Michael Bourn, and Shane Victorino are out there as free agents, with Dexter Fowler supposedly being dangled by the Rockies as a trade possibility.
Washington being out of the mix would depress the market for someone like Victorino. Ken Rosenthal wrote in August that the Rangers "coveted" Victorino, and would seem to make it more likely that the price on Victorino might drop to the point that the Rangers would decide it makes sense to do a deal with him.