Emerald City Swagger is in the middle of our 2018 Seattle Mariners player reviews. We start with the position players, then move on to the pitchers. Today is left fielder, Denard Span.
The Seattle Mariners needed some outfield help early in the season and acquired left fielder Denard Span along with reliever Alex Colome from the Tampa Bay Rays for two minor leaguers, including former 2015 second round pick Andrew Moore. The move was necessitated by the suspension of Robinson Cano and injuries to Mitch Haniger and Nelson Cruz.
Span would go on to play 94 games for Seattle, mostly in left field. He hit .272 with seven homers and drove in 30 runs. The former center fielder played above average defense and provided some depth in the Mariners lineup.
Span also afforded M’s manager Scott Servais the luxury of bringing Ben Gamel, who hit only one home run in 2018, off the bench. Unfortunately, like most of the Mariners bats, Span wilted down the stretch hitting .180 the final month of the season.
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Entering this offseason, Span’s contract has expired and the team holds a $12 million option to keep the 34-year-old former first round pick. His contract also includes a $4M buyout. A decision has to be made on whether to bring Span back, especially with the free agent status of Nelson Cruz. Seattle has Haniger and Guillermo Heredia in the outfield and both are under team control until 2023.
Run production is a priority if the Mariners want to be a true contender. The Red Sox, Astros, and Yankees are offensive powerhouses. If the Mariners lose Cruz, outfield power is a concern. Gamel does not provide that and neither does Span over the course of a season. At this point in this career, Span is better served as a fourth outfielder. But, do you pay a fourth outfielder $12 million?
If I am Jerry DiPoto, I look in another direction. I can get a better run producer for that money. It would also be ideal to get younger at that spot as well. Maybe they can explore a deal for Michael Brantley (bad defensively) or sign free agent A.J. Pollock (great defensively). One of the issues is the Mariners lack of MLB ready players in the farm system. Therefore, if Gamel is the fourth outfielder, then a legitimate everyday outfielder is needed. Even if Cruz is re-signed, he can’t play the field much anymore.
I think the Mariners should buy out Span and move on from him. He provided what he was brought in to do, but Colome was the real value in that early season trade. A poor farm system is starting to hinder the Mariners chances of making necessary changes to get to where they want to be. With that being said, Span is not worth the value at $12 million per year.