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Nationals get Span from Twins for minor leaguer

Nationals get Span from Twins for minor leaguer

WASHINGTON (AP) With the addition of Denard Span, the Washington Nationals aren't just plugging a player into the lineup and moving on. He's like that nice new piece of furniture that causes the homeowner to redecorate the entire room - just so everything is in the perfect spot.

The Nationals acquired the center fielder from the Minnesota Twins for minor league pitcher Alex Meyer on Thursday, setting off a chain reaction for the reigning NL East champions.

With Span in center, 20-year-old Bryce Harper moves to a corner spot - probably left field, with Jayson Werth staying in right. Michael Morse could then move to first base - the position played by free-agent slugger Adam LaRoche.

Also, with Span hitting leadoff, Werth drops a few spots in the batting order. And with either Morse or LaRoche seemingly on the way out, Harper could move down in the lineup as well.

All for a player who hit .284 with 90 steals and a .357 on-base percentage during five seasons with the Twins - the type of player the Nationals have been seeking since moving to Washington in 2005.

``He's going to bring a dimension to the club that we haven't had before,'' general manager Mike Rizzo said, ``a fast-moving, exciting guy that makes contact and moves the guy around and can fly around the field.''

Harper is also fast-moving and can fly around the field - although he hits with much more power than Span and is a converted catcher. Harper had some adventures in center field this season but was also a sparkplug, doing enough with his bat and glove to win the NL's Rookie of the Year award.

Nevertheless, the Nationals have always wanted to move him one spot over.

``He's a terrific young center fielder,'' Rizzo said. ``But we felt for his long-term development and his career path that we wanted to move him out of a taxing position of center field, both mentally taxing and physically taxing. We've accomplished that.''

Werth also seemed a bit out of place as a leadoff hitter. He selflessly handled the role just fine this year, but he was there essentially by default because there wasn't a better option.

``I think his best skillset is farther down,'' Rizzo said, ``in a run-producing type of spot.''

As for the first base dilemma, Rizzo said the team is still in talks with LaRoche and has entertained some trade queries about Morse, so either player could end up there next season.

``It gives us some options in dealing with our roster,'' Rizzo said.

Span's name has surfaced in trade rumors for much of the past two years, including some interest from the Nationals in 2010. He asserted himself as one of the Twins' building blocks in 2009 and 2010, emerging as a quality leadoff hitter and versatile outfielder.

Span is entering the fourth year of a $16.5 million, five-year contract with a $9 million club option for a sixth year. His deal was considered quite a bargain for the Twins given Span's production in the first two seasons, but he only played in 70 games in 2011 because of issues with concussions and migraines, then worked to revamp his diet and workout regimen to try to better manage the situation.

``Hearing trade talks and going through a concussion wasn't easy for me,'' said Span, who was born in Washington but has never lived in the city. ``But fast forward to today - and I'm definitely ready. ... I'm ready to be coming to a team that is already in a place to win, and I just hope that I can come here and not get in the way.''

Span played in 128 games this year, hitting .284 with four homers and 41 RBIs. He missed time late in the season due to a strained right collarbone, allowing Ben Revere to showcase his speed in the outfield and on the basepaths.

``He took a step forward last year in our minds,'' Twins general manager Terry Ryan said of Revere. ``He played well. He played with a wealth of energy. This should fit.''

The Twins are coming off back-to-back last-place finishes in the AL Central and were in desperate need of starting pitchers. Scott Diamond is the only proven starter on the roster right now and there is a dearth of power arms in the farm system to help fill the need.

The one area of strength the Twins had to deal for pitching was outfield, with Span and Revere with the big league team and promising prospects such as Aaron Hicks in the minor leagues. So while Span was a valuable player on the field and one of the respected veterans in the clubhouse, he was a natural candidate to be dangled in a trade.

Meyer should help, but not in the short-term. The 6-foot-9 flamethrower went 10-6 with a 2.86 ERA splitting time at Class A Potomac and Hagerstown this year.

``He's a starting pitcher, which we need'' Ryan said. ``He's got the stuff, he's got the frame, he throws it over the plate. ... He played in two different A-ball leagues last year. On the surface that means he's not as close as you'd like, but we'll let him dictate his pace and see exactly how he responds to it.''

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AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

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Nationals Spring Training Schedule 2018

Now that pitchers and catchers have reported, the next step in our long journey to Opening Day is the spring training games themselves. Not every game is televised, so get ready to follow along with your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll still be exciting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Bryce Harper homered again, or if Max Scherzer is perfect through 4 innings (spoiler: both of these will happen).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing contracts in the next few weeks. The Nats are always willing to make a big splash, and even beyond the available free agents, have been linked to impact players like J.T. Realmuto in trade rumors.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the roster has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be happening while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for their seasons, so bookmark this page to check on the Nationals spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Nationals 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Braves at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Feb. 26 - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 1 (SS) - Nationals at Braves, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Tigers at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 (SS) - Nationals at Mets, 1:10 pm
Monday, Mar. 5 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 6 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 - Nationals at Astros, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Nationals at Tigers, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 13 (SS) - Mets at Nationals, 7:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 (SS) - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Mar. 17 - Mets at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Nationals at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Nationals at Marlins, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Astros at Nationals, 1:05 pm (ESPN2) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Nationals at Mets, 6:10 pm
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Astros at Nationals, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 - Nationals at Marlins, 7:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Marlins at Nationals, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Cardinals at Nationals, 1:05 pm (MLBN)
Tuesday, Mar. 27 (at Nationals Park) - Twins at Nationals, 4:05 pm