The San Francisco Giants have announced the signing of outfielder Denard Span to a three-year, $31 million contract. The deal includes up to $5 million in incentives negotiated by super-agent Scott Boras.
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
Span, 32, did not receive the qualifying offer from the Washington Nationals allowing him to have more freedom on the open market without a compensation pick attached. He played just 61 games in 2015, slashed .301/.365/.431 with a 120 wRC+ and 1.4 fWAR. He was coming off a 4.0-win season in 2014 and two consecutive 3.4-win seasons before that. He is an elite contact hitter, which is what the Giants’ front office has looked for recently.
The left handed speed threat was a strong defender in center before age 30. He dropped off the past couple seasons posting negative UZR/150 in consecutive seasons. He could have trouble in the spacious center field of AT&T Park, but would likely excel as a left fielder. FanGraphs’ base-running metric loves Span, posting a combined 28.5 during his career and 8.9 the past two seasons (in 208 games).
This acquisition allows the Giants to go into Spring Training with four major league ready outfielders in Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, Angel Pagan and now Span. Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker will likely fight for the fifth outfield spot.
The Giants have spent big this offseason giving $90 million to Jeff Samardzija, $130 million to Johnny Cueto, a $75 million extension to Brandon Crawford, and now $31 million for Span. There’s an obvious risk to guaranteeing $300 million in salary, but the reward could be astronomical. It is an even year after all.
It is unknown what the Giants are going to do with Span. He will likely leadoff, because of his OBP skills (8 percent walk rate in the last two seasons) and base-running efficiency. Pagan has said that he wouldn’t want to play left field while Blanco could play all three outfield positions with league average efficiency. The depth is there, but the injury history will be a concern for the aging Giants.