Washington Nationals Analysis: Can Nats Afford To Lose Denard Span Past 2015?


Coming into this season, the Washington Nationals had a few key players that were entering the final year of their deals. Some, like Ian Desmond, have got off to rocky starts to their 2015 season. However, you have to think that Denard Span, is making more of a case that the Nationals should keep him beyond 2015.

This season, Span is hitting .314 with five home runs and 16 RBI’s. Plus, he has a .356 on-base percentage. Span is in the final year of a six-year, $25 million contract that he signed with the Minnesota Twins back in 2010. With Michael Taylor now getting time in the big leagues, it would seem like Taylor would plug in for Span, but the Nats might want to re-consider.

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In his weekly notes column, FOX Sports and MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal talks about whether the Nats would give Span another contract after this season is over? One of the reasons he gives for that is the value that Span gives to the team when he is on the field, manning center field:

"“The Nats are 186-136 (.578) when Span starts, 24-28 (.462) when he does not. Consider as well: Span is batting .335 since last season’s All-Star break, the best in the majors in that time frame (minimum 300 plate appearances) (h/t Ken Rosenthal)"

Yes, Span will be 32 when next season begins, but he has been a good defender for Washington in center field and it is clear that he has been the sparkplug for this team in starting off big innings. The problem is, Span’s stolen bases have been down. This year, he has only stolen three bases, but that is most likely due to his recovery from the core muscle surgery.

Michael Taylor has made some excellent defensive plays in left field as of late. As a center fielder, Taylor had some issues with communication and he made two errors in 18 games at the position. Taylor might be ready to be the center fielder in the future, especially with Span being a mentor for him.

One of the other factors the Nats have to consider when thinking about re-signing Span is Jayson Werth. Werth has battled shoulder and wrist injuries this season, but he is hitting just .208 with two home runs. He will be 37 next May and be entering the final two years of his contract.

The Nats have many decisions to make this winter in terms of which free agents they are going to give qualifying offers too. Right now, if Span keeps putting up very good numbers, he will make the case that the Nats should at least give him a qualifying offer. One thing is for certain, when Span is in this lineup, this team wins more often than not.

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