Would the Nats actually trade Denard Span?

Would the Nats actually trade Denard Span?
November 10, 2013, 10:45 pm
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The Nationals acquired Denard Span from Minnesota last offseason with two years left on his contract, giving them a short window to compete until their young prospects were ready to take over in center field. But now just one year later, it appears the Nats may be ready to move on from Span, and it could have nothing to do with Brian Goodwin or Michael Taylor.

CBSSports.com has reported the Nationals may look to trade Span this winter after the center fielder finished out 2013 on a high note. Span recently won the Wilson defensive player of the year award for the Nationals after posting a perfect 1.000% fielding percentage.

Span was ineffective at the plate for much of the 2013 season before going on a 30-game hit streak from Aug. 17 to Sept. 18. It was the longest hit streak in the majors this season and helped salvage his year individually. Span finished with a respectable .279 average through 153 games with 75 runs and an MLB-best 11 triples.

CBS says the Nationals will listen to offers on Span now with the possibility of signing Jacoby Ellsbury to a long-term deal in mind. Ellsbury is fresh off a World Series win with the Boston Red Sox, but is expected to walk via free agency. The 30-year-old is likely to command a deal worth six or seven years and well over $100 million.

Ellsbury would fit in Washington if Span was dealt in theory, but the money he is expected to command could be a major holdup. Werth is already signed for at least $20 million per year through the 2017 season and Harper will need to be extended before then. How many years and how much money could they tie up in their outfield? 

This same conundrum was presented last offseason when Justin and B.J. Upton were linked to the team, as well as Michael Bourn. B.J. Upton and Bourn in particular were both free agents, but neither was expected to get the type of money or average annual value as Ellsbury.

This story is likely just a way to drive up the price for Ellsbury, as having the Nationals name in the mix presents another potential suitor not afraid to spend money. It has happened just about every year since Werth was brought for seven years, $126 million on December of 2010.

Ellsbury will in all likelihood not end up in Washington. They will probably stick with Span for next year and maybe even consider his $9 million team option for 2015 depending on how it goes. They will probably continue to monitor the development of Goodwin and Taylor in hopes one can take over in either 2014 or 2015. And again, next offseason, the Nats will still likely be linked to the biggest outfield free agents out there, regardless of whether they are actually interested.