This suddenly just got a lot more real. Earlier this week we heard the Nationals were interested in the Twins' Denard Span, but without putting in play either of the two players who a team like Minnesota would most covet. Those two players, as we already know, are 26-year old starter Tyler Clippard and 23-year old bullpen ace Drew Storen.
Of course Washington's posturing was just that. Posturing. The Twins have absolutely no reason to trade Span: he's one of the American League's best center fielders, he's a good leadoff hitter, he's still relatively young and he's under contract through 2014 with an option for 2015.
Now, that seems to have changed.
We'll talk about this more after the jump.
#22 / Pitcher / Washington Nationals
Aug 11, 1987
|2011 - Drew Storen||5-2||47||0||0||0||25||3||49.1||34||14||13||4||12||40||2.37||.93|
There's no doubt about it: Storen is a beast. He throws a mid-90s fastball, a slider in the lower to mid-80s (both of which are very good pitches), and then a less than stellar changeup that's only about six miles per hour slower than the fastball. SB Nation's player page for Storen gives you a little more on his potential:
Assets: Has great arm action on his pitches and the ideal demeanor for pitching in the late innings. Oozes potential as a closer, due to excellent strikeout ability.
Flaws: Needs to build up his stamina in order to maximize his big-league potential. Is probably a little lacking in pitching repertoire to be a starter.
Career Potential: Quality closer with big upside.
All of that is, of course, great. The issue that we're still stuck with is that Span is an everyday player, and Storen is still a relief pitcher. After the Wilson Ramos and J.J. Hardy fiascos, I'm hoping Bill Smith has learned his lesson in undervaluing position players when getting bullpen help in return. Even if that help is as great as Storen has the potential to be.
In his career, Span has accrued WARs of 3.9, 3.3, 1.3 and 3.3 (that's just so far this year, and according to BaseballReference.com). FanGraphs' War says 3.2, 4.1, 2.6 and 2.6 so far in 2011. Even the best relief pitchers in baseball aren't going to be capable of posting 3-WAR seasons.
If the Nats are suddenly willing to think about Storen, that's great. Now the Twins can listen. But the Nationals better be willing to pony up something else.