And Span’s a twofer, giving them the patient career .353 on-base percentage lefty-hitting leadoff man who will let them drop Werth to a better RBI spot. It’s not an obvious decision. That’s why they got Span for just one prospect, albeit a good one, and must pay him just $11.25 million the next two years.
Why was Span tradeable for the Twins? Why didn’t the Angels pick up a $15.5 million club option to keep Haren? What do these teams know? Have the Nats outsmarted themselves in one or both moves? Could be.
But the Nats now have a five-deep rotation, with Haren near the end (gasp) of the line, which, if heathy, could be stupid good. The lineup, with Werth no longer at the top and Harper in the middle, could be classic, including five players with speed on the bases and six spots with power.
The Nats say they are a 65-35 “scouting over advanced stats” operation. But the geeks should rave about adding Haren and Span, whose levels in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in any multi-year period obliterate the players they may replace in Edwin Jackson and LaRoche.
It’s rare to see a team know its short- and long-term plans and then find a way to pursue both simultaneously. The Nats want to have a shot at the World Series next year. With bullpen tweaks and a healthy Haren, that looks perfectly plausible.
But the Nats didn’t want to tie up so much payroll that they couldn’t pursue long-term contracts, at various times, for their best young players.
Finally, the Nats wanted to keep the path clear for their best developing hitters. With Morse a free agent after ’13 and an option on Span for 2015, the Nats have kept those options open, too.
Two weeks ago, the Nats name was connected to expensive free agents such as Greinke, Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton with an undercurrent that the Nats might sign a Scott Boras client or at least help him make a market.
Is the Nats front office really this red hot? Are they finding comparable, or even better, values at far lower price points than other teams? Are they building a 2013 roster that makes Haren giddy while also protecting a “window” of at least four years and maybe more?
Perhaps this is all just a little too much to swallow in one gulp for a franchise that, at this time a year ago, hadn’t had a winning season in D.C.
But you could definitely get used to it.
For previous columns by Thomas Boswell, visit washingtonpost.com/