FG on Fox: Giants Bet on Denard Span’s Talent

For the Giants, it’s easy to say this has been an offseason of risk. They’ve invested a fortune in Johnny Cueto, suggesting they aren’t too worried about his most recent second half. They’ve invested a slightly smaller fortune in Jeff Samardzija, suggesting they aren’t too worried about his most recent second half. And now, as of Thursday, they’ve invested a smaller fortune still in Denard Span, suggesting they aren’t too worried about his 2015 injury problems. It’s simple to see how this could conceivably blow up in the Giants’ faces. Hundreds of millions of dollars. Deeply flawed most recent seasons.

Of course, there’s upside to the Cueto deal. Of course, there’s upside to the Samardzija deal. And now, take Span. There’s no getting away from the fact that he spent much of last year hurt, eventually undergoing season-ending hip surgery. But Span wasn’t extended a qualifying offer, so the Giants aren’t losing a draft pick. And it’s a three-year commitment with a $31 million guarantee. There are incentives, and if Span hits them — if he hits all of them — then, over the next three years, he’ll earn as much money as J.A. Happ. There’s upside to the pitcher contracts, but the upside with Span seems plenty more reachable.

Leave aside for a moment the Giants didn’t have a real in-house center fielder. Leave aside for a moment the market isn’t flush with alternatives. There are a few places where I think teams are a little too cautious with their money. I think teams are still too cautious with talented Japanese and Korean players, placing the major leagues on too high a pedestal. And I think teams are too cautious with players who have injury questions. We’ve seen, for example, the Dodgers work to accumulate a bunch of affordable arms with injury backgrounds. That’s taking advantage of what they perceive to be a soft part of the market.

Span fits in a similar place, except he’s a position player, and not a pitcher, so he doesn’t have the usual pitcher concerns. Everybody wants talent and health. It’s expensive to get them both. The Giants are placing a bet on Span’s talent, figuring better health is going to follow.

Read the rest on Fox Sports.

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Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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bjsguess
Member
bjsguess

The only thing I can think of is that the medicals must be worse than what we know. Given that so many teams could use an outfielder of his caliber, $11M AAV is just shocking. A team like the Angels should have been all over him.

jcutiger
Member
jcutiger

Or the Mets. But I guess they aren’t interested in giving 3-year deals right now.

Ebenezer
Member
Member
Ebenezer

Not necessarily. Pitching free agents have been the priority this off-season, not outfielders. Alex Gordon signedf for $18M/year after averaging 5 WAR/year over the past five years. Cespedes and Upton remain unsgned. That doesn’t mean Span’s a lock, but the contract isn’t a shock given the focus on other outfielders.