Another free agent outfielder has signed and of course it's once again not the Orioles doing the signing. Denard Span, most recently with the Nationals, is in agreement with the Giants on a three-year contract, pending a physical.
Only a week ago, MASN's Roch Kubatko wrote about the Orioles having been interested in Span, although he qualified that interest by saying the Orioles "wouldn't go beyond one year for Span." With Span, who will turn 32 next month, getting three years from another team, another way that you could describe the Orioles interest in Span would be to say that they weren't ever seriously interested.
It's not much of a challenge to see why the Orioles would have balked at Span. He only played in 71 games in the 2015 season due to injuries. Going back a couple years beyond that, he played in 128 games in 2012 and only 70 games in 2011. Span went to the disabled list three separate times during the past season, with his season finally ending when he needed hip surgery in late August.
That's a guy who you have to really take a hard look at his durability, even if he may bring some skills, like some speed and a respectable on-base percentage, that the Orioles generally lack. In the 2015 season, Span batted .301/.365/.411 and stole 11 bases. That would look good over a full season, if he made it a full season. He's also, you know, a real outfielder, though he's been a center fielder exclusively since 2010 and the Orioles do already have one of those.
Span's contract with the Giants comes with $31 million guaranteed over the three years, with an unspecified amount of incentives included. There are surely worse ways the Orioles could spend $10 million per year for each of the next three years, but there are probably better, or at least safer, ways to spend it, too. On the other hand, it'll surely work out perfectly for the Giants this year since this is an even year.
The outfield market continues to shape up in an interesting way because it's seen as more of a buyer's market, so the fact that there's one fewer outfielder is less significant than that there would now seem to be one fewer team out there searching for an outfielder.
We'll see how that actually plays out over the next six weeks between now and the start of spring training. If the remaining players, especially higher-end names like Justin Upton or Yoenis Cespedes, do indeed find their price tags coming down, the O's might almost be forced to get involved, whatever does or doesn't happen with Chris Davis.