|Denard Span's on-base percentages|
the past three seasons:
.331, .328, .342.
Span is a good player. He is not a franchise cornerstone. He's not a guy you "build around."
The Washington Nationals aren't building their team around Span. The Nats are built around Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg and, to a lesser extent, Ryan Zimmerman. (They're paying Jayson Werth as if he's a cornerstone, but he's a complementary piece -- like Span, a quality complementary piece.) The Nats had the best regular season record in the National League in 2012, and Span should help them stay there in 2013. He allows them to get Harper out of center field and Werth out of the leadoff spot, both of which were ill fits.
Span turns 29 during spring training. He has not made an All-Star team, has not drawn even a 10th-place vote in the MVP balloting, has not won a Gold Glove. He did once lead the AL in triples; that's the only "black ink" on his stat sheet.
For a leadoff man/center fielder to be a true cornerstone, he needs to have an OBP of .400, not .350; he needs to hit .300+, not .270; he needs to win Gold Gloves and lead the league in runs scored occasionally. None of this is Span.
Again, Span is a good, useful player. It is not a condemnation to say he is not a star. The point is, we ought not value him as if he is.
He's a better player than Ben Revere, who figures to take the center field job in 2013. Span's flaws -- throwing arm and power -- are Revere's flaws as well, only more so. I fully expect that by the time Alex Meyer takes his intended place in the Twins rotation, Revere won't be the Twins center fielder either. He'll be supplanted by Aaron Hicks or maybe even Bryon Buxton.
Joe Mauer, Buxton, Meyer, Miguel Sano -- these are guys you can build a team around. Span and Revere, not so much.