The New York Mets are expected to meet with veteran left-handed outfielder Denard Span sometime in the new year, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
Before they give serious consideration to signing Span, the Mets want to make sure he is healthy. The soon-to-be 31-year-old missed most of 2015 as he dealt with a myriad of injuries for the Washington Nationals. Span began the season on the disabled list as he recovered from surgery on the rectus abdominis muscle in his right side. He also underwent season-ending hip surgery in August, as The Inquisitr reported.
In total, Spans’ 2015 was comprised of three separate DL stints.
However, when Span was healthy, he was still a productive player. In 61 games, Span hit.301 with five HR and 22 RBI. He was also a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen bases attempts. The former longtime member of the Minnesota Twins is also just one year removed from leading the National League in hits with 184.
Spending the last three years in our nation’s capital, Span played like the prototypical leadoff hitter that Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo wanted when he acquired the speedy centerfielder. During his three-year stint, Span was a.294 hitter who averaged 4 HR and 35 RBI while playing an above average center field. But according to FanGraphs, Span’s defense regressed the last two seasons as he posted negative numbers in both Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150.
In an interview with MLB Network Radio after the season (via Federal Baseball), Span gave an update on the status of his surgically-repaired hip.
“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.”
Span was also asked about his status as a free agent at that time, but was mostly non-committal.
“I’d rather not go there. I’d just rather not go there. Technically I’m not even a free agent yet, so I don’t know what’s going to happen, but they know my stance.”
If the Mets were to sign Span, the team could then shift the light-hitting, defensive wizard Juan Lagares into a fourth outfielder role, as Davidoff notes. Last season, Lagares struggled to stay healthy while hitting right-handed pitchers to a poor.253 clip. Overall on the season, Lagares hit.259 with six HR and 41 RBI through 143 games.
Coming off his extended injury struggles, Span will be a low-risk, high reward option for the Mets as they’d likely use him in a platoon with Lagares. But the Mets will not be the only team with interest in Span as several teams — including the Nationals — will be on hand to watch Span. He will not be showing off any baseball skills, however, as Davidoff writes that Span’s workouts will include him “displaying his viability in conditioning drills.”
In addition to Span, the Mets are expected to keep in contact with fellow outfielder Gerardo Parra. Coming off a productive and healthy season in 2015, Parra is expected to land a four-year deal — something the Mets may try to avoid.
[Featured Image by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images]