UPDATE: Twins sign Denard Span to five-year contract

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Denard Span.jpgUpdate: Here’s the details: Span will make $750,000 in 2010, $1 million
in 2011, $3 million in 2012, $4.75 million in 2013 and $6.5 million in 2014. The contract includes a $9 million option for 2015 with a $500,000 buyout.

12:08 pm: Here it is. Christensen tweets that Span will earn $16.5 million over the five years while the Twins hold a $9 million option for 2015. Pretty nice deal for both sides.

11:38 am: Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that the Twins and outfielder Denard Span have agreed to a five-year contract. Terms aren’t yet available, but the new contract will cover the rest of Span’s team-controlled seasons.

Span, who turned 26 in February, batted .311/.392/.415 with eight homers, 10 triples, 68 RBI and 23 stolen bases last season and has quickly developed — with the help of LASIK surgery — into one of the game’s best leadoff hitters. The club felt comfortable enough with him as their everyday center fielder that they parted ways with Carlos Gomez to acquire shortstop J.J. Hardy this winter. While Span is more-developed with the bat, UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) suggests that he can’t hold a candle to him defensively.

Looking at this from the Twins’ perspective, it’s nice to know Span is safely secured for the next five seasons, but I’d hope the contract contains some sort of team option for his first year of free agency or something.

Noah Syndergaard scratched with a “tired arm”

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Mets manager Terry Collins says that he has scratched Noah Syndergaard, who was supposed to start this afternoon’s game against the Braves. In his place will go Matt Harvey.

Syndergaard, Collins says, has “tired arm.” But also says he has some discomfort in his right biceps. He will have an MRI, but Syndergaard says it’s not serious and that he could pitch as soon as Sunday. Collins says this is an abundance-of-caution type thing, saying “we can’t take a chance on this guy.” Which is true.

The Mets ace is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 26 innings. He has walked no one this year. Not a soul.

James Paxton has a fantastic new nickname

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James Paxton of the Mariners is 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA, 39 strikeouts and only six walks in 32.1 innings of work over five starts. Last night he shut the Tigers down, tossing seven shutout innings, striking out nine and allowing only four hits. With Felix Hernandez looking less than king-like lately, Paxton is asserting himself as the new ace of the Seattle staff.

And now the tall Canadian native has a nickname to match his ace-like status:

“Pax was really outstanding and we certainly needed it,” manager Scott Servais said of the Canadian southpaw. “Big Maple is what he was nicknamed tonight and I kind of like that. He was awesome.”

“Big Maple” is a fantastic nickname. That’s the sort of nickname guys used to get back when nicknames were great. Before managers just put “y” at the end of dudes’ names and before the “First Initial-First Three Letters of The Last Name” convention took hold in the wake of A-Rod.

“Big Maple.” That makes me smile. I’m gonna be smiling all dang day because of that.