In case their standing pat at last season’s trade deadline fooled/confused you, the Twins are fully aware they have lost 95+ games the past two years in a row, and are rebuilding.
This was acknowledged tacitly on Thursday by a trade sending long-time starting center fielder and leadoff man Denard Span to the Washington Nationals for big, powerful right-handed pitching prospect Alex Meyer. The Nationals have coveted Span for the past two years, the Twins have been unimaginably terrible at pitching for two years. In heaven, there are matches more awkward than this one.
We could pick apart the pure value-swap of this trade for hours–Nick and I quibbled about it on Twitter for at least 45 minutes–but in the interest of keeping this under 4,000 words, how does this affect the White Sox?
Well, immediately–and how far does White Sox thinking ever really stray from the immediate?–the Twins should be a bit worse in 2013, since Span is leaving and Meyer was in High-A ball last year. Assumed Span replacement Ben Revere has incredible range in center field and can absolutely fly, but also is completely devoid of any power or much patience. Span recovered to a .283/.342/.395 batting line in 2012, whereas Revere’s .294/.333/.342 is likely the best he can manage with his tools. Also, the departure either forces across more playing time for Devin Mastroianni, or brings the Twinkies to a “Catch everything, Ben!” outfield alignment of Revere, Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit/Chris Parmalee.
But the Twins were always going to be pushovers in 2013, with or without Span’s career .324/.391/.439 career line against the White Sox (he hurt the Tigers worse). Rebuilding their pitching staff is going to be a long, arduous process, and Meyer represents them doing something about it, and in a way you wouldn’t expect.
For all the mocking the Twins get about their strange distrust of strikeouts, and their affinity for low-potential control artists, they just traded a cheap, trusted, but non-star veteran straight-up for a 6′ 7″ monster who throws 97 mph and has command and deliver-repeating problems. That’s risky, and could result in an overpay for an eventual reliever, but it’s also bold, and representative of the risk the Twins need to start taking if they want to have something to throw up against Justin Verlander and Chris Sale.
Until that comes to fruition, let us celebrate the departure of Denard, a torturous destroyer of worlds who hit nearly .400 against the Sox this season, and made a bunch of rangy plays in center field on the worst day of our lives.
Follow James Fegan on Twitter @JRFegan