Nationals center fielder Denard Span has been playing through a back injury for the past month, missing games on and off while actually performing very well. Recently the pain became to much to play through and now he’s been placed on the disabled list with what the team is calling “back tightness.”
No one seems quite sure what the exact problem is and Span sought further details from a back specialist, with manager Matt Williams calling the situation “perplexing” earlier this week.
Span has hit .304 with five homers and a .798 OPS in 59 games for his best production since 2009, but now he joins left fielder Jayson Werth, third baseman Anthony Rendon, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, and right-hander Stephen Strasburg on a crowded, star-stuffed Nationals disabled list.
As we noted before, Bobby Bonilla’s deferred deal with the Mets isn’t anywhere near as bad and mockworthy as it’s often made out to be. But the fact is, it isn’t even the worst in the game, either as far as the money or the optics go.
Check out some of these gems, most of which was gathered from an article by ESPN’s Doug Mittler back in 2012:
- Manny Ramirez has a 16-year, $32 million deferred money deal from the Red Sox which, like Bonilla’s, kicked in on July 1, 2011. It costs them $1.968 million a year and goes through 2026 when Ramirez is 54;
- The Cardinals are paying Matt Holliday to play now, but they’ll still be paying him through 2029 under the $120 million, seven-year contract he signed in 2010;
- Retired Rockies first baseman Todd Helton deferred $13 million of his 2011 salary (total was $19.1 million) and will be paid through 2024;
- The Nationals will pay Ryan Zimmerman $10 million over five years after he’s retired, with a nominal organization job;
- Ryan Braun will receive $18 million in payments in equal installments each July 1 from 2022 to 2031;
- The Tigers are still paying Gary Sheffield between $1 million and $2.5 million annually through 2019;
- The Mariners are paying Ichiro Suzuki a chunk of his last big deal through the year 2032;
- The Reds signed Ken Griffey Jr. to a $116.5 million contract in February 2000, but more than half of that is still being paid by the team and will continue to be so until Griffey is in his 50s.
My favorite one, however, has to be from my Atlanta Braves, who tried to make a big splash by signing Bruce Sutter before the 1985 season. He was a bust of course, but this is how he was paid. From a 1985 Los Angeles Times report:
Bruce Sutter was to receive payments totaling $44 million over the next 36 years from his new club, the Atlanta Braves . . . Sutter will receive a $750,000 salary for each of the next six years and a minimum of $1.12 million a year for the remaining 30 years of the contract. In addition, he will get the $9.1 million in so-called “principal” at the end.
Bruce. Sutter. And you think Bobby Bonilla’s deal was a bad one.
Nationals infielder Anthony Rendon, who missed the first two months of the season with knee and oblique injuries, is headed back to the disabled list with a strained left quadriceps muscle.
Rendon played 18 games between the DL stints, hitting .290 with zero homers and a .737 OPS while splitting time between second base and third base defensively. Last season he played 157 of 162 games, leading the league in runs scored and finishing fifth in the MVP balloting.
He joins left fielder Jayson Werth, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, and backup outfielders Nate McLouth and Reed Johnson on the Nationals’ disabled list, forcing manager Matt Williams to put together a patchwork lineup that will once again likely include plenty of playing time for Danny Espinosa.
Here is the Nationals’ starting lineup for Sunday’s series finale against the Brewers …
Harper got hit on the left knee by a pitch Saturday. He’ll ultimately be fine, but there is some swelling. Also absent for the Nats is catcher Wilson Ramos, who’s getting a day of maintenance. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth are both on the disabled list. It’s a starting nine with a spring training feel.
First baseman Ryan Zimmerman has played through plantar fasciitis in his foot all season, but with his performance being terrible and the injury not getting any better the Nationals have decided to place him on the disabled list.
Zimmerman, who missed two-thirds of last season with injuries, hit just .209 with five homers and a .611 OPS in 56 games this year while transitioning from third base to first base due to shoulder problems.
Washington is also without left fielder Jayson Werth and Clint Robinson has been seeing regular playing time as one of his replacements, but manager Matt Williams could use Robinson at first base if he’s willing to turn left field over to rookie Michael Taylor and/or career-long infielder Danny Espinosa.
Robinson is a 30-year-old who hasn’t hit much in limited action yet, but he spent eight seasons in the minors hitting .302 with an .891 OPS.