This morning, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune announced that the Minnesota Twins have signed Denard Span to a new five-year contract. The deal will be worth up to $16.5 million and it also contains an option year worth $9 million. The contract itself will buy out all of Span's arbitration years without dipping into any of his free agency. However, his first year of free agency will be covered by the option year if the Twins decide to pick it up.
I received several e-mails and saw several comments about the Twins not worrying about signing Joe Mauer and that they're almost admitting defeat by signing guys like Nick Blackburn and Span to contracts before him. I completely disagree that either of these signings are an indication of whether or not they've "admitted defeat." In fact, I believe these contracts will give the Twins a better idea of what future expenses will be which should help them see how Mauer's contract will fit into their plans. Consider that optimistic, but I believe that's every bit as possible as the Twins "admitting defeat."
Here's how the $16.5 million will be dispersed:
2011: $1 million
2012: $3 million
2013: $4.75 million
2014: $6.5 million
2015: Team option of $9 million (including a $500,000 buyout)
A very reasonable price to pay for arguably the best lead-off hitter in the American League. It's tough to say whether or not he would have made that money through arbitration, but the Twins are alleviating any headaches they may have encountered through that process.
This is the second vote of confidence that the Twins have given to Span sine the end of last season. The other being the trade of Carlos Gomez to Milwaukee, ensuring that Span remains the full-time center fielder. This coming not two years after everyone had already written him off as a viable Major League outfielder.
Span has recently credited LASIK eye surgery for helping him evolve into one of the game's premier lead-off hitters. In the past, he's credited motivation in helping him get better, "I read about people saying I'm not ready and that I suck, etc. But I read it to get motivated." As Rob Neyer of ESPN.com recently wrote, we'll probably never know what has helped Span the most, but whatever it is, it's working.
In response to the signing, Span said, "I'm definitely not angry today." But if motivation is what's kept him going, I think Twins fans will need to unite and have a "Bash Denard Span Day" to help push him further.
I'm glad to see Span get the extension, even if it's only for the purpose to avoid headaches during arbitration.