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Free Agent Target: Denard Span

Looking at a guy who we could maybe-actually-possibly-if-things-break-right afford.

Sweet beard is included!
Sweet beard is included!
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Headed into the 2016 offseason, the A's needs were clear. Get a new bullpen, some starting pitching help, and get a leftfielder. Through a flurry of moves, the A's have addressed the two former concerns and then some. The A's also picked up a new first and second baseman while shipping off Brett Lawrie.

Anyway, you knew all of that. The A's accomplished most of their pitching goals and in a roundabout, Mark Canha is your everyday LFer kinda way, they accomplished their outfield goal as well. But the outfield is still light, Canha's defense is unproven, Billy Burns will need to followup on his solid rookie season, and Josh Reddick is a trade candidate if he's not extended. Beyond 2016, the cupboard is even more barren with Matt Olson being the lone outfielder (kinda) prospect nearing the bigs. The need for an outfielder like Span is obvious for the present and the future. Should the A's consider signing him?

Who is Denard Span?

Span has rather quietly, perhaps because he's always played many miles from Oakland, been an excellent baseball player when healthy. First breaking into the league in 2008, Span has been well above average every season he's been healthy. Over the last two years, the centerfielder has slashed .301/.358/.421 in nearly a thousand plate appearances. His defense has fallen from its previously excellent ratings; DRS had him pegged at -10 runs last season while UZR had him at -4.9 in just 500 innings. His defensive decline is certainly troubling but might be explained by...


Ah, of course. I wouldn't spend my time writing about a .300 hitting free agent outfielder unless he had his warts, which the A's totally dig. The only thing from keeping Span from being a highly paid free agent is his injury riddled 2015. From 2012-2014, Span stayed relatively healthy landing on the DL only twice, and one of those was the first instance of the 7-Day DL. So congrats Denard! Anyway, 2015 was a different story: Span started the year on the disabled list thanks to a sports hernia, landed on it again in June with back spasms, and finally landed on it with a season ending hip injury in August. Span then had successful hip surgery, a huge part of his currently decreased value. How's his health outlook for 2016? Hard to say sitting here from my computer, partially due to a lack of information and partially due to Netflix but it certainly seems like Span believes he'll be locked and loaded for 2016.

What's the market like for Span?

With Alex Gordon signing, we should start to see more movement on other outfield free agents. So far, the market has been quiet for Span and will likely stay that way until he works out for teams. The Orioles have expressed interest in Span but are so far unwilling to go past a year in length. Span's workout will likely dictate some of the length and years of the contract but for now he seems within the A's realm.

It's hard to imagine any result of Span's workout will create a long term or highly expensive contract. Fangraphs estimated 3/$36 contract but the rumors of the Orioles being unwilling to past a single year show how up in the air everything is.

Have the A's shown any interest in Span? There's been speculation that Span might be a nice fit, but nothing actually shows the A's have any interest. So let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Would Span be interested in the A's?

With the A's miserable 2015 it's hard to imagine Span is highly interested in coming to Oakland. On top of that, Span could be in rebuilding value mode which doesn't lend well to the Coliseum. Thus far, Span's been pretty quiet about his intentions (like most players are). Also he hasn't replied to me:

Should the A's go for Span?

As always, the contract will dictate if the A's should go for Span or not. Fangraphs' 3/$36 guess above could be way off if Span is deemed a big injury risk and it's hard to say what he'll get until the rumor mill gets a rolling. Another factor is his defensive decline. The A's will have to determine whether he's truly declining defensively or if his poor 2015 numbers can be explained by injury. Either way, his bat makes him an intriguing player and he's not going to be a Raul Ibanez out there.

Based on comments regarding the roster and payroll, it seems like the A's are going to stand pat. If they were to sign anyone, it'd likely be a low risk, high reward, low cost guy like Span. Personally, I think the A's should absolutely go for Span. His contract isn't likely to get out of hand pending his showcase and if you find yourself at the upper end of that guess (3 years/$30 million or so), take yourself out of the bidding.

What do you think?


EDITOR'S UPDATE: Welp, never mind. At least they overpaid (3 years/$30M, exactly what Tim said not to do).