The Twins locked up outfielder Denard Span on Saturday with a five-year, $16.5M contract extension, keeping the young outfielder in Minnesota through at least 2014 with a $9M club option for 2015. Joe C of the StarTribune has a breakdown of how the back-end-loaded contract is paid out over its term.
The Twins' first round pick in the 2002 MLB Draft, Span played five full seasons in the minors from 2003 through 2007 before his recall in early 2008. In 2,388 minor league plate appearances, Span hit .287/.357/.358 with 68 doubles, 26 triples, 10 HR, and 192 RBI. Since his recall, Span has established himself as one of the American League's best leadoff hitters, batting .305/.400/.467 in just under 1,100 plate appearances with 32 doubles, 17 triples, 14 HR, and 167 RBI. His MLB numbers are far superior to his minor league figures and he seems to be getting better with each plate appearance.
Handed the starting CF job this season after the trade of Carlos Gomez, Span is a career (13.8) UZR/150 in center field, but has posted career +5.8 and +16.7 UZR/150 marks in right field and left field, respectively.
The extension is the team's second such deal in a week, following Nick Blackburn's. It is another example of the Twins signing a core player to an affordable contract early on while the player gives up some free agency time. The Twins will pay Span $750k this season, and the team will be well over the $95M mark as a team by opening day. With some bigger contracts on the horizon and the extension for Joe Mauer hopefully looming on the horizon, the Twins will likely see their payroll continue to rise as their young core matures, but the Span deal offers nothing outrageous throughout its term.
Great move by the Twins, as fans can be assured that the team's core players of Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel (assuming the Twins pick up his 2011 option), Scott Baker, and Nick Blackburn are all under contract for next season. Add Span to that list. The big question is where Mauer fits into this list, and that will take care of itself one way or another in the next few weeks.