On Thursday night, the Giants announced they had signed free agent OF Denard Span to a three-year contract.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network said the deal was worth $31 million over those there years.
The Mets had been linked to Span during the early part of the off-season, but in late December signed another left-handed bat in Alejandro De Aza with the intention of using him in a platoon with Juan Lagares, ending the possibility of a pursuit for Span.
The Mets apparently had concerns about a long-term engagement with Span, presumably because of the health risks he comes with at age-32. That’s understandable, considering he is coming off August hip labrum surgery, his third procedure in the last year.
Span was reportedly willing to workout for interested teams near his home in Tampa, Florida this month, and that was an indication other interested parties are concerned about Span’s health as well, and are weary of meeting such demands.
But it’s surprising the Mets wouldn’t at least watch Span in some baseball activities before jumping the gun on De Aza, who seems like he should have been a mid-to-late January signing anyway.
If he is healthy, however, Span is a catalyst for the top of a lineup, and certainly would’ve been a better fit in center field than De Aza, who has played three games at that position since the 2013 season and was always a below-average defensive player at that position.
And Span has shown to be a winning presence, as the Nationals were 36-25 with him in the lineup in 2015, and 47-54 when he did not play.
Span doesn’t draw a lot of walks, but he makes contact, has first-to-third speed, and when he’s healthy, can be counted on for 200-plus total bases thanks to his ability to take advantage of big ballparks with his triples speed. Acquiring Span would have gone a long way towards improving the team’s on-base percentage, and it would’ve allowed Curtis Granderson to be moved towards the middle of the lineup as well where his power could be much more valuable, and could help account for the loss of Yoenis Cespedes.
Contact rates and on-base percentage something the Mets have strived to improve upon this winter, evident by their pursuit of Ben Zobrist before he went to the Cubs, but haven’t really accomplished in their offensive acquisitions to date.