After spending the offseason strengthening their starting rotation, the San Francisco Giants have bolstered their outfield by signing speedy veteran Denard Span to a three-year contract, the team officially announced.
The #SFGiants have agreed to terms with OF Denard Span on a three-year contract pending a physical.
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) January 7, 2016
Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area reported that Span’s deal is worth $31 million. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweeted about the incentives in Span’s contract, which add up to a potential total of $5 million.
Denard Span can also earn $1 million in 2016 in incentives, and $2 million a year In 2017 and 2018, maxing out at 525 plate appearances.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 8, 2016
Span, who turns 32 in February, lands a sizable guarantee despite missing a huge chunk of the 2015 season due to injury. After surgery to repair the rectus abdominis muscle in his right side caused Span to begin the year on the disabled list, he underwent hip surgery in late August, as the Inquisitr reported.
During the 2015 season, Span suffered through three separate DL stints.
However, when the left-handed outfielder was healthy, he was a productive player. In 61 games for the Washington Nationals, Span hit.301 with five HRs and 22 RBIs. He was also a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen bases attempts. Despite being just one year removed from leading the National League with 184 hits, there were questions about Span being healthy enough to land a multi-year commitment.
In an interview with MLB Network Radio, via SB Nation’s Federal Baseball, in late 2015, Span gave a sterling update on his surgically repaired hip as he was in the process of free agency.
“It’s going good. Going really good. Everything is on track. If anything, it’s probably ahead of schedule. The range of motion in my hip is getting there and just feeling good. Just ready to get going.”
The only visual proof of Span being healthy was a the video below, showing him do vertical jumps.
I’m jus sayin???????????????????? pic.twitter.com/b7QYRXfSuR
— Denard Span (@thisisdspan) January 4, 2016
Despite his injury-riddled 2015, Span has been one of the most useful players in the game since his debut in 2008 with the Minnesota Twins. As noted by MLB Trade Rumors, Span ranks second among all MLB players in contact rate in the last three years — ahead of Nori Aoki and behind Michael Brantley.
Span’s perfect 11-for-11 stolen base numbers were no fluke as the speedy outfielder is a perennial 20 stolen bases candidate, having stolen as many as 31 bases in 2014. However, the one cause for concern may be Span’s defense. While FanGraphs rated Span as a great defender for most of his career, his defensive metrics have declined.
In 2015, Fangraphs said that Span earned negative marks in both Defensive Runs Saved (-10) and UZR/150 (-10.3).
Struggling to stay on the field and questionable defense may have scared some teams away — such as the New York Mets — but the Giants are obviously comfortable with the contract.
There was talk of teams such as the Mets, Nationals, Baltimore Orioles, and others with a possible interest in Span.
With Span in the fold, the Giants will likely utilize him as either a full-time player in either left or center field. The team has Angel Pagan — who has struggled with his own injuries in recent seasons — under contract for 2016. The quirky Hunter Pence figures to get a bulk of the playing time in right field.
[Featured Image by Christian Petersen/Getty Images]