SAN FRANCISCO — Scott Boras, the most famous agent in sports, tried to convince Denard Span to take a one-year deal and hit the market again when healthy. Span had 11 teams chasing him for one season only, but he declined, telling Boras he wanted to find a long-term home.
Span officially signed a three-year, $31 million deal with the Giants on Friday and afterward Boras said Span was “undervalued” because of three surgical procedures that wrecked his walk year. Span twice had surgery for a sports hernia and had season-ending hip labrum surgery in September.
Asked how close he is to 100 percent, the new Giants center fielder said he could suit up Friday if needed. The Giants have more than a month until spring training and three months until opening day.
“I should be ready to go for spring training,” Span said. “Where we are now in my training, I didn’t think I’d be this far ahead. I feel almost better than I feel before the surgery with my explosiveness. I’m not sure if you guys are on Twitter, but I posted a little something to give you guys a little taste of my athletic ability.
“I feel great. I feel great.”
[PAVLOVIC: Giants won't make it official yet, but Span will play center]
The Giants sent trainer Dave Groeschner to Tampa to check on Span, and they’re confident he’ll be fine. Boras called the injuries “one-time fixes,” and Groeschner is well-versed in the area after the Giants signed Justin Maxwell (who had the same hip surgery in 2014) last season.
Span played just 61 games last season and said one injury led to the next.
“After 2014 — you guys knocked us out of the playoffs — and my groin was bothering me a little bit the last couple of weeks of the season,” he said. “I thought it was a minor groin pull. I thought once I got back home it’d be fine and with a little rest it’d be fine. After a couple months of it not being fine, I finally decided to get surgery on that in December.
“It took me about four to five weeks to recover from that before I could get back training. Fast-forward to January and I had roughly a month to try and get ready for a big season for myself and my career. I’m a hard worker and the next thing you know my other side started bothering me. I got to spring training and tried to play in a game and I couldn’t sprint, so I had the second surgery in March … I did come back too soon from the second surgery, trying to be a gamer and trying to help my ball club win. Inevitably it led to my hip, having hip surgery.”
Boras said he didn’t seriously talk with teams until the new year because he wanted Span to recover. The Giants lingered. “Denard has been on our radar for a long time,” team president and CEO Larry Baer said.
When decision time came, Span didn’t shop around in search of a better three-year offer. Span wanted to “go to a place and stay in that place,” Boras said, and the agent told the Giants they were “a priority because of the fit for them and the fit for Denard.”
Span got his security, but he has a vested interest in staying on the field. His contract includes performance bonuses starting at 400 plate appearances and going up in increments of 25 plate appearances. He also gets bonuses at the 90- and 100-game marks. In all, he can earn an additional $5 million, and the Giants are hoping he'll get to the full amount.
“This,” Boras said, smiling, “is really a very wise move for the Giants.”
--- Another contract note: Span did not get a no-trade clause.
--- Two years ago, Span made a catch in Washington that probably cost the Giants a win and led to a fantastic Hunter Pence quote.
“Yeah, I remember that vividly,” Span said as the catch was brought up. “That’s in the past, but if he brings it up, I’ll let him bring that up. That’s in the past, it’s a new day, we’re on the same side, but I’m pretty sure once the season starts it’ll come up. We’ll joke about it.”
Given the personality Span showed Friday and the outstanding reputation he has in the game, there seems little doubt that he’ll needle Pence the moment they meet. It also seems a lock that he’s a clubhouse fit from Day 1.
“It’s a good clubhouse,” Span said. “It seems like they win the World Series every other year.”