Danny Espinosa’s 2013 season has been nothing short of disappointing for the Washington Nationals, for a variety of reasons. The second baseman has struggled both in the field and at the plate all season, prompting the team to option him back down to the minor leagues in early June only to see his struggles continue. Espinosa’s year has been such a challenge that the team has decided that he will not be among their callups when rosters expand today, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. GM Mike Rizzo informed Espinosa of the team’s decision late Saturday afternoon.
Expected to be a piece of the team’s lineup for the foreseeable future, Espinosa started at second base for Washington on Opening Day. He hit a mere .158/.193/.272 in 167 PA to start the year, striking out 47 times (with just 4 walks) in the 44 games he got into. It became known that he’d been playing with a fractured bone in his right wrist in early June, just as Espinosa found himself back down at Triple-A in order to straighten some things out.
With Syracuse Espinosa didn’t fare much better. He batted .217/.283/.290 in 305 PA, striking out 99 times in 73 games. He split his time between second base and shortstop while in the minors, but once again continued to struggle in the field regardless of which position he was playing. The team had asked him to make some adjustments to his approach at the plate, adjustments he was either unable or unwilling to make according to Kilgore’s report.
The disappointing season, despite some positive turnaround in the past two weeks, was enough to prevent Espinosa from rejoining the active roster for the final month of the regular season. It’s also left questions open about his future with the organization.
Having spent so much of the 2013 season down in the minor leagues, Espinosa will presumably fall short of the needed service time to reach arbitration this coming offseason. Instead, his contract will automatically renew at the league minimum and the team will actually obtain an extra year of control over his services. He’ll likely earn somewhere close to $500,000 in 2014 instead of the $1.5 Million or more that he might have seen in arbitration for the first time. Washington has reportedly received multiple inquiries from teams about the team’s willingness to trade him but their asking price has reportedly been on the high side, leaving a deal unlikely.
Espinosa will likely come to Spring Training with Washington with the expectation that he’ll win a spot on the active roster – in some role that’s yet to be determined – but that’s far from a certainty at this point in time. Espinosa has shown too much potential (despite the strikeout concerns) for the team to simply give up on him at this point. Ending his season sooner than later, allowing him to rest and refocus, and hoping that he returns in the Spring ready to contribute to the Major League roster once again might be the best course of action at this point for Washington.