The Minnesota Twins today announced the signing of starting centerfielder Denard Span to a five year $16.5 million contract that includes an option year that would extend the contract to 2015 if exercised by the club. The option is worth $9 million.
Span was subject to contract renewal having accumulated, just over one year of Major League service time over the past two seasons. He may have qualified salary arbitration process following the 2010 season had his service time exceeded the threshold to be a Super 2 player. The contract buys out the entirety of Span's arbitration eligibility.
In his two seasons, Span has enjoyed good success at the plate, while providing the team with solid defense at a premium position. The club points to his total of ten triples that tied him for the league lead and his eye-popping 40 infield hits to highlight the threat his speed provides. More important is his career slash line of .305/.390/.422 in 1087 plate appearance spanning two seasons. His .811 OPS in centerfield makes him a very valuable cog in the Twins offensive attack because he gets on base and with his speed and his good batting eye setting the table for Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer.
This is the second major long-term signing by the Twins this month. Previously, they locked up starting pitcher Nick Blackburn through the next four seasons for $14 million. As a small market club, Minnesota has emphasized locking up young talent with multi-year deals that provide the team with cost certainty and allow them to forgo the potentially contentious arbitration process. Rumors have swirled through baseball surrounding the contract status of Minnesota's MVP catcher Mauer. The long term contracts signed by Blackburn and Span may be precursors to the completion of an extension for Mauer that will keep him in the Twin Cities well into his thirties.
Joe Tetreault is a member of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey.
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