How contracts shift the trade market

Updated: July 29, 2012, 11:05 AM ET
By Buster Olney

Oh, sure, you can call the Minnesota Twins and ask about Denard Span, a good player who would help any good team. Span is hitting .288 with a .352 on-base percentage, solid numbers for a leadoff hitter.

But an underlying factor that makes it more difficult for the Twins to trade Span has nothing to do with OPS or defensive metrics: His contract is valuable.

At this time of year, some players, such as Alfonso Soriano, are available because of their contracts. In the case of Span, his deal makes him almost invaluable. "It's really hard to place a value on a contract like that," said one GM. "It makes it tough to trade a player [in that circumstance], because you almost have to get overpaid to walk away from that deal, or there's something else going on."

One of the best moves that Bill Smith made in his tenure as Minnesota's GM was to lock up Span to a long-term deal. Span is earning $3 million this year, and he will get $4.75 million next year and $6.5 million in 2014. The Twins hold a club option for 2015 at $9 million, with a $500,000 buyout.