Nationals get Denard Span from Twins for pitching prospect Alex Meyer

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Denard Span has been linked to the Nationals in trade rumors dating back to mid-2011 and the Twins finally pulled the trigger today, sending the 28-year-old center fielder to Washington for pitching prospect Alex Meyer.

Span fits what the Nationals were looking for both offensively and defensively, as he’s a prototypical leadoff man with good on-base skills and speed who covers plenty of ground in center field. This year he hit .283 with a .342 on-base percentage in 128 games and Span has a career OBP of .357. He’s under team control through 2015 at reasonable prices, making $20.25 million over the three seasons.

Meyer was the Nationals’ first-round pick in 2011 out of the University of Kentucky and the 6-foot-9 right-hander with a mid-90s fastball had a strong pro debut this year, throwing 129 innings with a 2.86 ERA and 139/45 K/BB ratio between two levels of Single-A. He’s certainly not MLB-ready yet, but could be ready at some point in 2014 and the Twins have been desperate to find some hard-throwing starters with top-of-the-rotation potential.

Span will take over as the Nationals’ center fielder and leadoff man, allowing Bryce Harper to play a corner spot full time and perhaps signaling the end of Adam LaRoche’s time in Washington. Ben Revere will replace Span as the Twins’ center fielder and will likely get every chance to become Minnesota’s leadoff man despite a .319 career on-base percentage though age 24.

Note: For my much longer, Twins-centric view of the trade, click here.

Miguel Sano gained weight this offseason

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Not all players coming in to spring training are in The Best Shapes of Their Lives. Some have put on a few pounds, such as Miguel Sano, notes Twins GM Thad Levine:

Sano has been given medical clearance to engage in all baseball workouts with his teammates, his surgically reinforced left shin now completely healed, though the Twins intend to lighten his schedule to prevent any new injuries.

They’d like to lighten something else, too: His “generous carriage,” as General Manager Thad Levine delicately put it last week. Sano’s conditioning understandably lags, after a winter largely spent incapacitated by the surgery.

Sano’s conditioning has often been a topic of conversation among the members of the Minnesota press corps, though not always in good faith. For example, last year when Sano injured his shin by fouling a ball off of it, one member of the The Fourth Estate found a way to make a column out of blaming the freak injury on Sano’s conditioning. At least in this instance his colleague is correctly noting that the poor conditioning is a result of the injury and not the cause.

Still, it’s just another issue facing Sano this spring. He’s out of shape, coming off of an injury, and — not that he’s due any sympathy for it — he’s facing a likely suspension arising out of the allegations of sexual assault leveled against him late last year.

So this spring we’ll be seeing more of Sano, it seems. At least until that time we’ll be seeing less of him.