Denard Span is moving on from the Nationals, as the center fielder has agreed to a three-year, $31 million deal with the San Francisco Giants.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first had the news. The team officially announced the move on Thursday evening.
Span played with the Nationals for three seasons after coming to Washington in a trade with the Minnesota Twins. The Nats sent former first round pick Alex Meyer to the Twins to acquire Span in November of 2012. It was a transaction that worked out tremendously for the Nats, as he provided consistent production both in the outfield and at the top of their order.
Span, 31, leaves the Nationals as the record-holder for hits in a single season with 184 in 2014. That year he hit .302 with 94 runs and 31 steals and finished 19th in NL MVP voting.
Span's 2015 season was cut short by injuries, though he was excellent when healthy. He held a .301 average with 11 steals and 38 runs in 61 games. The Nationals were not the same without him, holding a 36-25 record when he played and a 47-54 record when he didn't.
Span battled numerous injuries throughout 2015 beginning with two surgeries before the season even began. Those procedures, which repaired a sports hernia and a core muscle in his abdomen, led to other problems including back spasms and eventually pain in his hip. The hip is what ended his season, as he underwent another surgery to repair the labrum in his left hip in early September.
After Span learned his season was over, he reflected on his Nationals career, knowing it was likely over. He gave an honest assessment of his time in Washington and what his future would hold.
"It has made me sad because I've enjoyed my three years here. I feel like coming here really resurrected my career. Coming from Minnesota, this trade was probably the best thing for me at the time. I've learned a lot here from the coaching staff and my teammates. It's just been a good time here," he said.
Span leaves the Nationals having posted a .292 average with a .345 on-base percentage, 207 runs and 62 steals in 361 total games with the team. He was very popular among fans, the media and teammates. Jayson Werth called him the best center fielder he has ever played with this season, which Span took as high praise.
"That makes me feel good. Coming from him, I have the utmost respect for him. He's been on World Series teams and he's played with other good outfielders. He's played with Shane Victorino, who is a guy that I look up to in this game. For him to say that, that means a lot to me. I feel like he made me a better player. This whole organization elevated my game and I'm just thankful I got the opportunity to be here," he said in August.
The Nats will first face Span in San Francisco when they play the Giants on July 28-31. He will make his Washington return shortly after that on Aug. 5-7. One can imagine he will get a very nice reception from the fans when he takes the field at Nationals Park.