In exactly one week, I’ll be boarding a flight to Nashville for the Winter Meetings and complaining loudly every step of the way.
That’s a lot of complaining when you factor in the number of steps from the front desk to the elevators and media workroom at the spacious Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. You’re handed a map and wished good luck. Then you spend the next five days hopelessly lost.
Forget about chasing rumors. I’ll be preoccupied with searching for the lobby and my room and the exact spot where agent Scott Boras holds court.
Someone get Boras a podium and precise interview date and time. He’s earned his own press conference setting after all these years.
You already know that Boras represents first baseman Chris Davis and left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who figure to remain on the market as the meetings officially begin on Dec. 7. He’s got a bunch of other clients, of course, including Denard Span, the former Twins and Nationals outfielder who switched from Joe Urbon of CAA Sports to Boras two months ago.
The Nationals didn’t make a qualifying offer to Span, enabling a team to sign him without surrendering a draft pick. It’s an added layer of appeal, and count the Orioles among the teams with some level of interest in him.
I’m aware that “some level” is fairly vague. I just know that he’s been discussed and has supporters in the organization as a potential fit in right field.
Span, who turns 32 in February, owns a .352 on-base percentage in eight major league seasons. He posted a .301/.365/.431 slash line in 2015 in his third season with the Nationals.
The Orioles want to improve their on-base capability, tired of constantly ranking near the bottom in the majors.
Span is 62-for-75 in stolen base attempts over the last three years. He plays all three outfield positions and is regarded as a plus defender. He made $9 million this summer and can’t assume that a huge payday is right around the corner.
Once lined up to cash in big, Span entered free agency with questions and concerns regarding his health and durability. The slash line this season came in only 61 games. After finishing 19th in Most Valuable Player voting in the National League, Span underwent hernia and core muscle surgery last winter that led to back problems and eventually a surgical procedure in September to repair a torn labrum in his hip.
(This is your yearly reminder that the hip also contains a labrum.)
The Orioles are weighing the good and the bad with Span. There’s more good on one side of the scale, but the physical issues may tip it in the other direction.
Signing Span to play right field likely would increase the desire to put a more powerful bat in left. Span has never hit more than eight home runs in a season, and they came in 2009. Then again, re-signing Davis might decrease the importance of getting home runs from another position.
Span could handle leadoff duties, where he’s been positioned in 892 games in his career, and allow the Orioles to lower Manny Machado. He brings certain skills that the club desires. But the organization can’t get serious about adding Span without erasing concerns over his health.
What would you do?