Denard Span to Washington: Why the Minnesota Twins Had to Make This Trade

Chris SchadContributor IIINovember 29, 2012

July 27, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Twins center fielder Denard Span (2) shuts his eyes during the national anthem before a game against the Cleveland Indians at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported late Thursday afternoon that the Minnesota Twins had traded center fielder Denard Span to the Washington Nationals in exchange for pitching prospect Alex Meyer.

The concept of moving Span may not be shocking for Twins fans, but there could be a sense of outrage that the Twins were not able to get a major league-ready starting pitcher in the deal.

The Twins had their hand forced to take this deal a day after the Atlanta Braves signed B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75 million contract. With the Braves being a potential trade partner with the expected loss of Michael Bourn, the Twins had to do something quickly or else the market for Span would dry up.

With that, the Twins decided that the Nationals offer of Meyer would be enough to help a rotation that has been among baseball's worst over the past two seasons.

Meyer was the top prospect in the Nationals organization with a 10-6 record and 2.86 earned run average in 2012 between Low-A Hagerstown and High-A Potomac. In 129 innings, Meyer struck out 139 batters while walking 45.

In short, the Twins were able to find a prospect who could project as a top-of-the-rotation starter while having solid command with the ability to strike hitters out.

Then comes the question of why the Twins had to use Span to obtain Meyer. It's simply because the Twins didn't have any other trade chips that could get the job done.

Justin Morneau is due to make $14 million and is one concussion away from calling it a career. Josh Willingham is signed through 2014 and makes an affordable $7 million salary. Plus, trading any prospect such as Aaron Hicks would not have drawn a top pitching prospect such as Meyer.

When it came down to it, Span was the only attractive name the Twins had to offer. General manager Terry Ryan did his best to get the best possible haul for Span and in the short term this trade may not show much.

However, in several seasons Meyer could be the ace that the Twins have been craving since the departure of Johan Santana in 2008. Like the A.J. Pierzynski trade in November 2003, a public outcry could result in a move that can benefit the franchise for years to come.