March 13, 2010

Span, Twins agree to new contract

First off I want to apologize for my lack of writing as of late. I've been on Spring Break this past week and...well...lets just say that the computer I'm using isn't the greatest. I know it's a lame excuse, but it's the truth. So I apologize and I will certainly write about a lot of things this week (such as the Nick Blackburn contract extension, Joe Nathan injury, and I'll finally get around to finishing my Top 50 Twins Prospect list). Thanks for visiting.

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:
2010: $750,000
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 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.


thrylos98 said...

I think that Jeter (.406 OBP, .871 OPS, 30SB), Bartlett (.389 OBP, .879 OPS, 30 SB), Suzuki (.386 OBP, .851 OPS, 26 SB), Figgins (.395 OBP, .789 OPS, 42 SB), Roberts (.356 OBP, .807 OPS, 30SB) Kinsler (.327 OBP, .814 OPS, 31 SB, 31 HR) might have an argument about who the best lead off man in the AL was last season :) (For reference, Span had a .392 OBP, .807 OPS and 23 SB). Definitely the best lead off man in AL Central and I don not really mind the deal, other than the fact that he would have been under team control anyways for the length of the extension (at minimum salary for the first 2 years of that) and the Twins thus paid $15M for the 3 years of his arbitration eligibility. I hope that he proves me wrong, but I think that this is overpaying... Not that I do not like Span, but with Revere and Hicks on the wings...

Paul said...

He was talking present tense, like this year, right now. Jeter and Suzuki are aging, Jeter, Bartlett, Figgins and Roberts had career years, and Kinsler's .327 OBP is a joke for a lead-off man. There, I made the argument.

Mike C said...

Good signing for the Twins, not a bad price either. Span whould be a top 5 lead off hitter this season, IMO.