Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Denard Span trade

Alex Meyer pitched the seventh inning of the
Futures Game last July for Team USA. Note the grip;
he is said to use a knuckle-curve grip on his slider.
Start with the trade itself: Denard Span to Washington for Alex Meyer, a 6-foot-9 RHP who split 2012 -- his first season in pro ball -- between low A and High A.

Let's start interpreting.

* I've said this several times in different formats: It is common for a championship-caliber team to have one regular outfielder like Span or Ben Revere; it is almost unheard of for such a team to have two of them. Trading one of them was inevitable.

* Presumably Terry Ryan decided to trade one of his center fielders for the highest-upside arm he could obtain, regardless of how nearly major-league ready he is. Meyer is NOT major-league ready; even if he opens next year in Double A, he's probably not going to appear in Target Field until 2014 at the earliest. This trade does not make the Twins better in 2013. It's a rebuilding trade -- established major league talent for the possibility of a future ace.

*Meyer IS a high-quality arm. He throws very hard, occasionally touching 100 mph in college (Kentucky); as is typical of very tall pitchers, repeating his delivery was an issue in college. When his arm dropped, so did the velocity. Good slider, working on his change-up. Possible that he might end up in the bullpen, but that would probably be if he never gets his delivery solved. Up and down collegiate record. Scott Boras is his agent.

Meyer had good numbers in A ball last year -- good but not eye-popping. I don't know how well he did at maintaining his delivery, and anybody who's spent the past few years watching Francisco Liriano spin out of control a couple times an inning knows how important that is. I don't see any red flags in his 2012 numbers.

Here's John Sickels' take on Meyer, posted a few hours after the trade was announced.

* Presumably the 2013 outfield for the Twins now is Josh Willingham in left, Revere in center and Chris Parmelee in right. But I still wouldn't rule out another trade for a pitcher, this one involving one of the first basemen (Parmelee or Justin Morneau).

Summation: There's risk in trading for a Class A power arm; Meyer comes without guarantee. But he's exactly the kind of arm the Twins lack and need. If he stays healthy, masters his delivery, develops a change up, he's a front-of-the-rotation arm.

Span is a good center fielder and leadoff hitter. He's not great. And, at age 28, he's not likely to be better than he is. He wasn't going to fetch a polished front-line starter one-for-one.

It's a good gamble for the Twins.

1 comment:

  1. Let's hope such moves for 2014 and beyond continue. In other words, I hope Morneau and Willingham are moved for similar upside arms.