Seeking a center fielder/leadoff hitter that would allow them to move Bryce Harper to a corner outfield spot, the Washington Nationals on Thursday acquired Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins for right-hander Alex Meyer, who is considered a top pitching prospect.
Long enamored with Span, to whom they'd been linked in numerous trade rumors over recent seasons, the Nationals apparently will put Harper in left field, keep Jayson Werth in right and move slugger Mike Morse from left field to first base. The Nationals also had considered signing free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn.
Span, 28, a talented outfielder with a .357 on-base percentage in five seasons with the Twins, is under contract through 2015. He'll make $4.75 million in 2013.
Using a variety of leadoff hitters through the season but primarily settling on Werth by mid-August, the Nationals were just average at the top of the lineup.
[Related: B.J. Upton, Braves strike $75 million deal]
Meyer, 22, was the 23rd overall pick by the Nationals in the 2011 draft. In his only professional season, the 6-foot-9 right-hander struck out nearly 10 batters per nine innings and had a 2.86 ERA in 25 A-ball starts. Twins management had excellent reports on Meyer out of the University of Kentucky and again out of the minor leagues, so dealt from their only position of redundancy – center field.
Ben Revere, whom the Twins considered better defensively than Span, will move from right field to center. Right field, therefore, could be a place for competition in spring training between prospects Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks. The Twins could chose to move Trevor Plouffe to right.
Most important, the Twins were desperate to add potential top-end pitching to an organization light on talent at both the major-league and high-minors levels. They'll still have to acquire a starter or two to the major-league staff and could turn reliever Josh Roenicke, picked up on waivers this winter from the Colorado Rockies, into a starter.
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