It turns out, Denard Span was born to play in Washington

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As a Twins fan I’ve always known Denard Span as being from Florida, but Amanda Comak of the Washington Times has the story of how the Nationals’ new center fielder was actually born in Washington, D.C.:

“I don’t think (my mom, Wanda Wilson) planned on having me in Washington, D.C.,” Span said Thursday with a brief laugh. “I think she’d planned on having me in Fort Lauderdale. I ended up just popping out early.”

Wilson, who attended college in the District, was visiting family when she was pregnant with Span. Span said his uncle had lived in D.C. for over 20 years. She was planning on the trip to be nothing more than that, but Wilson went into labor and Span will have D.C. on his birth certificate for eternity.

I wrote a really long article about the Span trade from the Twins’ perspective, but the Nationals’ version is this: Span is a very good all-around player and a helluva guy who combines good on-base skills with plus defense at an up-the-middle position. Washington is going to love him and the fact that he was born there probably won’t hurt, either.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.