A large number Twins fans are upset that the team may consider moving Denard Span. Twins fans should support trading Span as long as it’s for the right return. That said, Twins GM Bill Smith has proven through previous trades that he’s inept at getting good value for his players. That’s why there’s considerable consternation against a rumored deal involving Span and Washington Nationals’ closer Drew Storen.
Last year the Nats were able to dump their closer, Matt Capps, on the Twins and get highly-touted prospect Wilson Ramos in return. This year it looks like they may have the Twins falling for the same gag. The old phrase that should be running through Bill Smith’s head right now is: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” The reason is that it appears as though Smith doesn’t understand the value of a “closer.” The Nationals do, and that’s the reason why they’re willing to give up their closer (again) for a high-value hitter.
Here’s the case: Span, currently out with a concussion, has been able to post a 2.6 WAR in only 255 PA’s, good for 21st amongst all outfielders*. In order to give that value some context, consider that Carlos Gonzalez has a 2.4 WAR (386 PA’s), Josh Hamilton has a 1.9 WAR (in 300 PA’s), and Nelson Cruz has a 1.7 WAR (in 357 PA’s). Span has been quite valuable this season.
Now consider the value of Drew Storen. He’s posted a 0.5 WAR, tying him for 56th amongst relievers. To give that some context, below are two important points (brought to you by the word “anywhere”):
1. Currently the top reliever in terms of WAR is Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel, with a 2.4 WAR. This means that the top reliever in all of baseball right now has a WAR lower than that of a hitter who’s missed a significant chunk of time. The point? Yes, good relievers are absolutely necessary for a winning ballclub; you just can’t get anywhere close to the same contribution from them as you can from a very good hitter.
2. Twins reliever Glen Perkins currently has a 1.5 WAR, ranking him seventh amongst all MLB relievers. Repeat for effect: Glen Perkins currently has a 1.5 WAR, ranking him seventh amongst all MLB relievers. This is the same Glen Perkins that basically pitched himself out of the majors, spending most of ’10 in AAA. The point? Good relievers can turn up anywhere; you don’t give up very good hitters to get them.
Twins fans should support trading Denard Span, as long as the team can get the right return for him. In this case, getting this reliever as the centerpiece of this deal isn’t anywhere close to the right return.
*all WAR values from Fangraphs.com