The Tampa Bay Rays announced a series of organizational moves on Tuesday, including one involving a former SF Giants outfielder.
Longtime leadoff hitter and former SF Giants outfielder Denard Span is transitioning to the Rays’ front office as a special assistant after finishing an 11-year career.
The left-handed bat had not appeared in a game since the 2018 season and confirmed to ESPN that he had indeed retired from baseball after not receiving an appealing offer.
Retired SF Giants Outfielder Joins Rays Front Office
Span joined the Giants prior to the 2016 season on a three-year, $31 million pact. San Francisco felt they were getting a good deal on an outfielder who played in just 61 games due to a hip injury in 2015 for the Washington Nationals.
In his first season atop the Giants lineup, he slashed .266/.331/.381 (93 OPS+) with 11 home runs and 53 RBI while being worth 1.6 WAR in 637 plate appearances. On top of this, he successfully stole 12 bases in 19 opportunities for a team that squeaked into the playoff picture.
However, the 2017 season was a rough campaign. Span offered similar value at the plate with a .756 OPS, 12 home runs, and 56 RBI, but his defense plummetted in center field. In total, he was worth -27 DRS and -7.9 UZR as his range and arm showed signs of major regression.
In the 2018 offseason, he was shipped to the Tampa Bay Rays along with Matt Krook, Stephen Woods, and Christian Arroyo in a trade that brought third baseman Evan Longoria in return. Span’s inclusion in the deal was to offset Longoria’s 2018 salary ($11.2 million AAV) with his own ($9.5 million AAV).
This move turned out to be a good move for Span, especially considering that he resides in Florida. The role of a special assistant is typically a fluid role and is normally on an as-needed basis.
With that being said, a special assistant role can lead to a more significant role down the road. If Span’s post-career goals include working in a front office, then it is hard to find a better one than the Rays.