Rosenthal: Nationals may offer Drew Storen for Twins’ Denard Span

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It worked last year, as the Nationals picked up their long-term catcher by sending their closer to the Twins.  Now they could make a similar move, only grabbing a center fielder instead, if FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal is correct.

According to Rosenthal, Drew Storen may be in play in the trade talks between the Nationals and Twins regarding Denard Span.  Previous reports had shortstop Ian Desmond as the possible return for Minnesota, but the Twins may prefer getting a long-term closer instead.

And Drew Storen is definitely that.  The 23-year-old has a 2.37 ERA and is 25-for-28 saving games for the Nationals this season.  He’s under control through 2016, and he’s about as good of a bet as any current closer in the major leagues to still be in that role five years from now.

But do the Twins really want to go this route again?  Last year, they sent Wilson Ramos to the Nationals for Matt Capps.  It worked out just fine initially, as Capps has a 2.00 ERA and was 16-for-18 saving games for Minnesota down the stretch.  Plus, Ramos was always viewed as expendable because of Joe Mauer’s presence behind the plate.

However, Ramos would have been of great use to the Twins this year while Mauer missed most of the first half, and Capps, having blown seven of 22 save chances, has been getting booed off the mound at Target Field.

This one probably wouldn’t work out so badly.  Span is a nice regular and he’s not going to be a free agent until after 2014, but the Twins do have Ben Revere behind him, and while Revere probably won’t match Span offensively, he could be a decent regular at a bargain price.  Plus, their top position prospect, Aaron Hicks, also possesses the range to play center field in the majors.

I’d still give the idea of a Span-for-Storen swap a thumbs down for the Twins; there are better ways to cash in Span than trading him for a closer.  However, at least in this case, they’d be getting a whole lot more than a Matt Capps in return.

Rays sign lefty Ryan Merritt to a minor league deal

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The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.

Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.

His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.

The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.