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.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.