Mets are no longer attending Denard Span’s workout in early January

Denard Span


BaronDenard Span will reportedly workout for interested teams in early January, and the Mets were originally going to be one of those teams, Scott Boras – Span’s agent – told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post on Friday.

But the Mets signed Alejandro De Aza to a one-year contract before Christmas and is expected to be Juan Lagares’ platoon partner in center field. That seemed to put an end to any interest on the part of the Mets in Span, albeit without seeing the former National workout after undergoing hip surgery last summer.

And on Tuesday, Mike Puma of the New York Post confirmed the Mets were no longer planning on visiting with Span in Florida next month. Continue reading

Mets have three outfielders on their radar, Span a ‘perfect fit’

OFers


Rich MacLeodWhile the Mets opening in center field is unlikely to be filled until after the new year, that doesn’t mean they’re not currently weighing a multitude of different options.

In addition to having interest in Denard Span, the Mets are also looking at Will Venable and Alejandro De Aza as left-handed outfield options, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.

For most of this offseason, various reports have stated the team’s interest in Span, but this is the first time they’ve been connected to Venable or De Aza this winter.

Venable was reportedly on the Mets radar at the trade deadline this past summer. He checks the box as being a left-handed hitting outfielder and while he’s about league average defensively, he is also capable of playing all three outfield positions reliably.

He played mostly everyday for the Padres in 2015, but he might ultimately be better suited in a part-time role as his production drops off considerably against left-handed pitching, which isn’t the worst thing in the world since Juan Lagares is expected to be productive against southpaws.

He would certainly be a quality depth move, but he doesn’t profile as someone who can start everyday if necessary, whereas someone like Span does.

De Aza, who played for three different teams in 2015, is another interesting under-the-radar option for this team. Like Venable, De Aza is versatile in the outfield and does most of his damage at the plate against right-handed pitching.

In 2015, De Aza hit .278/.351/.448 with 17 doubles, five triples, 33 RBI and an even .800 OPS against left-handed pitching in 102 games.

On the downside, however, may be his ability to play center field. Over the course of his career, De Aza has shown the ability to play all three outfield spots, however, during his age 31 season this past year, he started just one game in center field. The year prior, he started just 15 games, thus making him less of a fit for this team.

At the end of the day, while Venable or De Aza could be of some value, the Mets’ sights seem to be focused on Span, who is scheduled to work out for the team in January, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.

The Mets seem reluctant to offer Span more than a two-year deal, presumably because of the injury concern. And Span’s willingness to workout for teams is an indication other interested parties are concerned about Span’s health as well, and are weary of meeting such demands.

If he is healthy, however, Span is capable of being a catalyst for the top of any lineup. He has a career on-base percentage of .351, he puts the ball in play, 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 go a long way towards improving the team’s on-base percentage, which would allow Curtis Granderson to be moved towards the middle of the lineup as well where his power could be much more valuable, potentially helping to account for the loss of Yoenis Cespedes.

“I think all indications are that he’s healthy,” Richard Justice of MLB.com had to say about Span recently. “He is such a perfect fit for the New York Mets.”


Denard Span will workout for interested teams in early January, including the Mets

Denard Span


BaronBoth Terry Collins and Mets officials have said they remain in the market for a left-handed complement to Juan Lagares in center field.

But the market for free agent outfielders has only started to become defined, thanks to Jason Heyward signing his long-term deal with the Cubs late last week.

The Mets have been linked to both Denard Span this winter, but he comes with certain risk given his age and his late-season hip surgery which cost him most of the 2015 season while with the Nationals.

But Span’s agent, Scott Boras, said during the Winter Meetings Span is indeed healthy and preparing for the 2016 season.

“He’s really been back to full speed,” Boras said during the Winter Meetings. “He’s running on a treadmill, doing ladder drills, he’s really doing baseball activities.”

Denard Span StatsBoras recently told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN Span will workout for interested teams in early January.

And one of those teams will be the Mets, Boras told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post on Friday.

Boras believes Span’s services will eventually be in high demand, specifically because his skill set is unique in the marketplace.

“Leadoff hitters are in demand, they’re hard to find, and a guy who plays center field on top of it,” the agent explained. “He offers teams a very unique skill set. And I think the only thing they need to see is just the fact that he’s back at 100 percent.”

The Mets seem reluctant to offer Span more than a two-year deal, presumably because of the injury concern. And Span’s willingness to workout for teams is an indication other interested parties are concerned about Span’s health as well, and are weary of meeting such demands.

If he is healthy, however, Span is a catalyst for the top of the lineup. He 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 go a long way towards improving the team’s on-base percentage, and it would allow 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.

Certainly, someone like Span doesn’t account for the power lost from Cespedes, but he provides a different kind of production with his speed, ability to create run scoring opportunities and ability to make contact. It’s something the Mets have strived to do this winter, evident by their pursuit of Ben Zobrist before he went to the Cubs.

And that skill set can only help the swing-and-miss bats in David Wright and Lucas Duda see more strikes and get more fastballs to hit. That along with growth from Michael Conforto, a full season of Travis d’Arnaud and utilizing Granderson’s bat in the middle of the lineup could all go a long way towards creating as much, if not more production out of that part of the lineup thanks to a greater ability to get on-base.

Original post: Dec. 17, 4:09 pm
Updated: Dec. 19, 9:20 am

Mets won’t rule out a full-time replacement for Juan Lagares

John Ricco


Baron

More and more, it seems the Mets will enter the 2016 season without the services of Yoenis Cespedes, as assistant GM John Ricco has said it is unlikely the club brings him back under the terms the free agent is seeking.

So the Mets have continued to explore ways to utilize Juan Lagares while increasing their overall production in center field in 2016.

Their preferred strategy appears to be finding a left-handed hitting centerfielder to pair with Lagares in an effort to protect his weaknesses against right-handed pitching, and maximize his exposure against left-handed pitching.

“The general context is trying to get better,” Ricco explained on Wednesday. “And one of the ways would be to find somebody who maybe complements him.”

Lagares will earn $2.5 million in 2016 as part of a five-year, $23.5 million extension he signed with the Mets before the 2015 season.

Of course, Ricco and the Mets will never rule out the possibility of replacing Lagares if an opportunity presents itself. Recall, the Mets acquired Cespedes at the trade deadline due to underperformance – on both sides of the ball – by Lagares in the first half of the season.

“If it were somebody to replace [Lagares], I’m not going to say no to that, but That’s just another one of the options we’re looking at.” Continue reading

Mets have checked in on Denard Span, but reluctant to offer more than a 2 year deal

Denard Span slice


BaronThe Mets are looking for a left-handed hitting outfielder to complement Juan Lagares in center field in 2016, and have reportedly shown interest in free agent OF Denard Span.

Span is a catalyst for the top of the lineup. He 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 go a long way towards improving the team’s on-base percentage, and it would allow Curtis Granderson to be moved towards the middle of the lineup as well where his power could be much more valuable.

Certainly, someone like Span doesn’t account for the power lost from Yoenis Cespedes, but he provides a different kind of production with his speed, ability to create run scoring opportunities and ability to make contact. That can only help the swing-and-miss bats in David Wright and Lucas Duda see more strikes and get more fastballs to hit, and along with growth from Michael Conforto a full season of Travis d’Arnaud and utilizing Granderson’s bat in the middle of the lineup, that could also help account for the loss of Cespedes.

Denard SpanBut Span missed a lot of time in 2015 due to a bad back. And his absence cost the Nationals dearly too – they were 36-25 when he played, 47-54 when he did not play.

He underwent season-ending hip surgery in late August, but that could mean Span might sign an under-market deal, and try to rebuild some of his value for another run through free agency.

But in a small sample size, Span mashed right-handed pitching in 2015 – he hit .335/.393/.486 with 90 total bases in 56 games. He was mostly ineffective against left-handed pitching, however, posting a .197/.279/.262 line with 16 total bases against southpaws. But neither are in-line with his career marks, as he’s historically been an effective hitter against left-handers, posting a .274/.351/.365 line and a more modest but still impressive .293/.353/.407 mark against right-handers.

He’s a little older now, and his back and hip issues could create some red flags for teams like the Mets who need his type of presence at the top of the lineup. His defense has also regressed in the last two years, and it’s unclear if that will improve as he enters his age-32 season in 2016, especially after hip labrum surgery. And there’s a legitimate question as to whether or not Span will be ready for spring training and Opening Day, and how much this hip injury might ultimately diminish the 32-year-old’s primary skill sets.

But if he’s healthy, Span is a proven commodity for the top of any lineup, and his historical marks against both right-handers and left-handers could prove to be a tremendous insurance policy for Juan Lagares who, in fairness, the jury is still out on.

The Mets have indeed checked in on Span, according to Kristie Ackert of the Daily News. But they do not currently want to sign him for more than two years, which is sensible considering his health concerns.

In addition, his agent, Scott Boras, told reporters on Wednesday Span is not inclined to sign anywhere to be in a platoon.

Of course, the Mets should not be guaranteeing anything to Lagares, despite his prowess against left-handed pitching in 2015. If an upgrade comes along that fits the Mets, they should consider that upgrade even if it means Lagares becomes a fourth outfielder.

The Mets may have company in their pursuit of Span, and it’s the team the Mets already lost their top free agent pursuit to.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting the Cubs have shown interest in signing Span as well.

Signing Span would make sense for the Cubs as well, as doing so would allow them to fill their opening in center field while netting a compensation pick after allowing Dexter Fowler to go via free agency.

And certainly, seeing another target go to Chicago would sting even more for the Mets, if that ultimately transpires.

In addition to the Mets and Cubs, Span has reportedly drawn interest from the Orioles this winter.

Original post: Dec. 9, 10:05 am
Updated: 5:15 pm