November 30, 2012
Friday, November 30
Instead of waiting for the free-agent outfielder dominoes to fall in the aftermath of B.J. Upton’s deal with the Braves, the Nationals took to the trade market, acquiring Denard Span from the Twins for minor-league right-hander Alex Meyer. R.J. Anderson has more details on that trade here; today’s Roundup begins with a look at three of its possible consequences.
Impact of Span trade on Adam LaRoche’s talks with Nationals unclear
Washington Times beat writer Amanda Comak was told on Thursday that Rizzo’s plans regarding LaRoche are the same as they were when Span was still a Twin: He wants him back, but only on team-friendly terms that account for some level of regression. If Milchin sticks to his guns, said to be a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $33 million, then Rizzo could let LaRoche walk, move left fielder Michael Morse to first base, and save $11 million annually in the process. Conversely, if Rizzo and Milchin come to terms, then Morse would likely become a trade chip, with a starting pitcher to replace free agent Edwin Jackson topping the Nationals’ short list of needs.
But Span’s contract, which has two guaranteed years remaining at a total cost of $11.25 million, also keeps the door open for bigger things. By upgrading his outfield without breaking the bank for Upton or Michael Bourn, Rizzo has kept his coffers well stocked on the heels of a 98-64 season enabled, in part, by owner Ted Lerner’s willingness to raise his payroll from $68.3 million to $92.5 million. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal wrote last night that Rizzo should utilize his financial flexibility to bring in an elite talent, and the additional $4-5 million that he would save by retaining Morse ($6.75 million 2013 salary) over LaRoche (projected $11 million AAV) could help him to do just that.
Rosenthal’s column focused on Zack Greinke, who has also been tied to the deep-pocketed Rangers and even-deeper-pocketed Dodgers, but who might prefer the already-open window of competition in Washington D.C. If maximizing income is Greinke’s top priority, then he figures to land in Chavez Ravine, but Rosenthal suggests that Greinke’s awareness of teams’ situations—which, incidentally, led him to decline a trade to the Nationals two years ago—could play a pivotal role in his decision. The opportunity to co-anchor a rotation that also features Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, and Jordan Zimmermann doesn’t come around every day, and if Rizzo puts enough green on the table, Greinke may choose to forgo a record-setting haul for a chance to contribute to a dynasty.
ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted on Tuesday that the Greinke bidding is “moving slowly” and probably won’t heat up until his agent, Casey Close, arrives at the Winter Meetings. How involved the Nationals are at that point will reveal the true impact of the Span trade on their 2013 plans.