Washington Nationals Free Agent Profile: Denard Span


The Washington Nationals may not have extended now-free agent Denard Span a qualifying offer this offseason, but could the 31-year old center fielder return to D.C. anyway?

The Nats may have lost out on the Ben Zobrist, Darren O’Day, and Jason Heyward sweepstakes, but the club and former outfielder Denard Span have “stayed in touch” per William Ladson of MLB.com. There are reports of Span’s agent , Scott Boras, claiming to be searching for a three-year deal. But, that may not be in the Nats’ best interests. If Mike Rizzo and the Washington organization is able to bring him back on a one or two-year deal, it could give them the outfield depth and left-handed bat they need.

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Span finished his injury-riddled 2015 campaign on the disabled list due to a hip injury. He put up a .301/.365/.431 slash line with five home runs, eleven stolen bases, and 38 runs scored in only 61 games. The former Minnesota Twin has spent the last three seasons with Washington, where he has provided a stable leadoff presence and plus defense in center field. While 2016 was supposedly going to be the season that 24-year old Michael Taylor took over the reins, there are still questions surrounding his high strikeout rate and poor plate discipline.

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Taylor hit .229/.282/.358 across 138 games with 14 home runs, 16 stolen bases, and 158 strikeouts while filling in for the injured Span for a majority of the season. While still showing flashes of 20/20 potential, he still ranked tenth in the majors in strikeouts, even though he played in less games than all nine players in front of him. His defense slowly improved over the course of 2015, and it looks like he can be an above average fielder for the rest of his career. However, Taylor still has time to develop and fine-tune certain skills while another player, such as Span, could help the Nats in the short-term. 

Bringing back fan-favorite Denard Span would bring a positive presence back into a clubhouse that desperately needed it this past season. Although his agent Boras is known for his history of holding out players until they get the deals they want, the Nats have plenty of players under contract with the accomplished agent, and know how to negotiate pretty well themselves. Span would not only be a great addition on the field, but off it as well. If he checks out from a medical perspective, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Span return to the Nation’s Capital in 2016.