Denard Span reached a three-year deal, pending a physical, with the San Francisco Giants, the team announced on Thursday night. The deal is reportedly worth $31 million plus incentives for the the 31-year-old center fielder. Span, acquired from the Twins for then-top pitching prospect Alex Meyer before the 2013 season, spent the past three years as a vital cog in the Washington Nationals lineup and outfield.
Span hit .292 combined over that stretch. During his finest season in a Nationals uniform in 2014, he hit .302 with 31 stolen bases and set a team record for hits in a season with 184. He played strong defense in center field — although some advanced metrics didn’t reflect it — in addition to making memorable diving catches and turning difficult plays into routine ones. He was a respected teammate, accountable player and a kind person, handling a 2014 lineup issue with Bryce Harper well.
Injuries — two core muscle surgeries before the regular season started and a hip surgery in late August — derailed his 2015 season. He hit .301 with five home runs but appeared in only 61 games. His third operation forced him to miss rest of the season. The Nationals did not offer him a one-year, $15.8-million qualifying offer after the season as a result of injury concerns.
Span now joins a formidable Giants team which has spent a lot of money this offseason. And given the injuries he suffered in 2015, a three-year deal is a nice contract. Span is represented by agent Scott Boras.
Since the Span-Meyer trade, Span was worth 6.8 WAR (win above replacement), according to Baseball-Reference.com, a formula that calculates a player’s worth above a replacement Class AAA player. Meyer, on the other hand, has posted a 3.77 minor league ERA since, moved to the bullpen at Minnesota’s Class AAA affiliate and reached the majors in 2015, allowing five runs in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Span is the second big former National to sign elsewhere this winter, as expected. Jordan Zimmermann signed with the Tigers earlier in the offseason. Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Matt Thornton and Casey Janseen remain unsigned.