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Acquired RHP Alex Meyer from the Nationals for OF-L Denard Span. [11/29]

Alex Meyer is an absolutely massive guy with an imposing presence on the mound. His long, lean frame can be difficult to keep in check throughout his delivery, but he made strides in 2012 with his consistency. With that improved consistency, Meyer’s fastball that sits in the 94-95 mph range found the strike zone more frequently. He can run his fastball up to 98 mph and there are times when his fastball plays up a grade because his long extension gets the ball on hitters more quickly than they expect when it comes out of his hand. Backing up his fastball, Meyer has a true plus slider that can miss bats and helps him maintain a high strikeout rate. His changeup is well below average and he rarely shows feel for throwing it.

Having seen Meyer several times over the last year, I can easily see the high-ceiling talent that warranted a $2 million signing bonus in the first round in 2011. With continued improvement in his control, Meyer’s two plus pitches could allow him to pitch in the middle of a big league rotation. If he doesn’t settle into that role quickly upon arrival in Minnesota, both of his pitches could play up in short bursts out of the bullpen, possibly enough to make him a high-end closer candidate. After reaching and succeeding in High-A this year, Meyer should start 2013 in Double-A and could get a cup of coffee late next year. —Mark Anderson

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Signed LHP Andy Pettitte to a one-year deal worth $12 million with an additional $2.5 million available in award bonuses. [11/28]

While Pettitte’s original return to the Yankees, back in March, came as a surprise, this re-signing did not.  The Yankees needed another veteran starter, preferably on a short-term deal, and Pettitte fits the bill. He enjoyed a strong 12-start season last year, posting his best strikeout-to-walk ratio since 2005. Factor in two quality postseason outings and Pettitte seems like a reasonable middle-of-the-rotation option. Given the short term and money involved, the Yankees’ relationship with Pettitte appears to have paid off again. —R.J. Anderson

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Acquired OF-L Denard Span from the Twins for RHP Alex Meyer. [11/29]

Mike Rizzo’s previous attempts to land a legitimate center fielder always left him circling back to Span. The last publicly known time Rizzo and the Twins were engaged on Span had Minnesota demanding the inclusion of infielder Steve Lombardozzi. Yet Rizzo landed his man without losing Lombardozzi.

Span, who turns 29 in February, is coming off his best offensive season in three years. He has not been able to repeat the high on-base percentages that put him on the map over his first two seasons, but he does bring a competent offensive profile to the leadoff spot thanks to high contact rates and a willingness to walk. On the basepaths, Span boasts adequate stolen base success rates while showing a knack for taking the extra base. Many regard Span as an above-average defensive center fielder, and his presence should allow Bryce Harper to move to a corner position for good.

Sweetening the deal for Rizzo is Span’s contract. While B.J. Upton received a five-year deal worth $75 million from division-rival Atlanta, Span will make about $20 million over the next three seasons. Making matters better: $8.5 million of that sum is unguaranteed. Granted, Span is less reliable than Upton, having spent time on the disabled list in three of the past four seasons, but the added financial flexibility should allow the Nationals to re-sign Adam LaRoche or bring in another worthwhile contributor. —R.J. Anderson

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I think that a better comp for Span might be Michael Bourn, and I would say that Span provides a cheaper, younger alternative who could provide what Bourn did last year within a couple of seasons. Except for the number of stolen bases, of course.

I like the trade for both teams. Nats get cost certainty, plus defense, and decent offense at the CF position for two years with a third year as an option, enough time to see whether Goodwin can hack it in the majors. It also gives the Nats a backup plan if LaRoche wants to pursue riches elsewhere (shift Morse to first, as they did when LaRoche was injured in 2011). Twins get a blue-chip starting pitching prospect - and one who throws hard! It's a good trade given where both teams are.
The Nats got one of the most under-rated players in baseball, with his team-friendly contract. The Twins received a mid-rotation/late bullpen pitching prospect who starts 2013 in AA. I say it's a steal for Mike Rizzo. Time will tell.
As a Twins fan I'm happy with this trade. Span is a valuable player but one can't discount the risk that another concussion sidelines him for half a season or more, or ends his career entirely. It wasn't that long ago that his symptoms sounded an awful lot like Morneau's, or Corey Koskie's before him. I'm happy that he bounced back and happy for him that he's going to a contender. But I am also happy that the Twins traded him. The benefits of cost control are greater for contending teams, and by the next time the Twins contend Span will be at or near the end of his cost-controlled years anyway. And finally I'm encouraged that the Twins targeted one high upside arm instead of a package of 2-3 arms with back-of-rotation upside to try to fill current holes on a team that will be terrible anyway. I think that offers a positive signal about what they're trying to do. I'd like to see the same thing done with Willingham.
Where would Meyer slot in your Twins top 10?
I'm a pretty big Meyer fan and he probably would have slotted in about fourth on that list for me.

As we noted during the release of that Twins list, it gets pretty jumbled once you get past the top two, maybe the top three. Meyer, even with his considerable risk, presents a high-ceiling arm that isn't matched in the Twins system.
Won't the Nats just play Morse at 1b?
Win win trade
Are there any whispers that the Nats are in on Josh Hamilton? Having Span as a strong 4th OF would offer some insurance against Hamilton getting hurt. If they can't land Grienke, what other elite players are out there? Hamilton on a short, high-AAV deal might make more sense than Michael Bourn.
Hamilton wont be signing for a short, high avb. Hes holding out for a longer contract and pretty sure some team will give him 4-5 years. I
U dont trade a top 50 prospect for a 4th of'er
I would think this means the Nats won't re-sign Laroche. With Werth, Span, and Harper in the OF, Morse will move to 1B.