Losing Denard Span to free agency on Thursday was a tough development for the Nationals, as expected as his exit was. But in trading for outfielder Ben Revere just 24 hours later, the Nationals have found themselves quite the competent replacement.
Revere was the heir apparent to Span in Minnesota when the Twins traded Span to the Nationals. Now he will replace Span once again, this time in Washington.
Revere slides right in as a left-handed hitting and speedy leadoff hitter. He projects as their starting center fielder and is both young - he's only 27 - and under team control for two years. He fills several needs that were created by Span's departure, and general manager Mike Rizzo loves what Revere will bring to his roster.
"We think that he’s a player that can impact us for a couple of years. Any time you get an everyday-type of player that can impact the ballclub and fits a need so well for a reliever that has one year left, then that’s something you have to look into. It’s something that we’ve done the last two years with [Yunel] Escobar and now Drew [Storen] for Ben," Rizzo said.
Rizzo threw out plenty of superlatives for Revere on his Saturday conference call to announce the trade. But versatility may have emerged as the key characteristic Rizzo sees in Revere as an addition.
"He’s one of the fastest players in the league. He can steal you a base. He plays good defense. He’s a left-handed contact hitter. When we talk about players like Ben Revere and his skillset, he doesn’t hit many doubles and he doesn’t get many walks, but the guy gets on base.," he said.
"He’s hit at the top of the lineup each stage of his career. He’s got a propensity to steal you a base in big situations and he’s the type of leadoff hitter that is very tough to pitch against. He fouls off a lot of pitches and has really good at-bats. We look forward to seeing him on our team this year."
Rizzo went on to describe Revere's defense in further depth:
"He can really play the position. He’s a good defensive center fielder with a short-throwing arm, a poor throwing arm. But beyond that, he’s got good range angles and (takes) good routes to the baseballs and makes great plays. I feel good about him in the outfield, anywhere in the outfield. With Revere and Taylor, you’ve got yourself two of the best defensive guys in the league. And of course, you got [Bryce Harper] who’s a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder and Jayson [Werth] who knows how to play all three positions also."
Revere fits into the bigger picture for Rizzo and the Nationals as a contact-hitter who does not strike out a lot. With Daniel Murphy also in store, the Nationals lineup will operate much differently in 2016.
"I think we’re much more balanced now. I think we’re a different offensive club. Our offensive efficiency should go up. We’re going to strike out less and put the ball in play more. We’re going to be more athletic and faster this year. We’ve got ourselves an array of different players that are versatile. We’ve given Dusty a lot of ammunition in a lot of different ways to win a ballgame," Rizzo explained.
"Athleticism, speed – those are all things that we tried to adhere to this winter and to improve ourselves in. And I think when you look at the athleticism we’ve added, the accomplished major league hitters that we’ve put on the roster, the guys that don’t strike out much and move the ball around and can play really opportunistic offense. I think that was what we were going into the offseason trying to do and I think we’ve accomplished a lot of our goals."