WASHINGTON — Former Washington Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa was officially designated for assignment by his new club, the Los Angeles Angels:
It was an unceremonious end to a disastrous stint for Espinosa in Los Angeles after Espinosa started out on such good footing. Espinosa was the local boy whose first hit with the club was a game-winning, three-run home run. From there, it was mostly downhill.
On the season, he is hitting an anemic .162/.237/.276, with the sixth-highest strikeout rate (35.8 percent) of any player with at least 250 plate appearances this season. That first hit home run was one of just six he has hit all year. Even at a light-hitting position like second base, this is replaceable and upgradeable production.
This was supposed to be a breakout opportunity for Espinosa, who talked in Spring Training of shedding the “utility” tag from his time in Washington.
He was traded away after the Nats acquired Adam Eaton and pushed Trea Turner to shortstop. With Anthony Rendon at third base and Daniel Murphy entrenched at second base, there was no more room for Espinosa.
“You are just hoping you can go somewhere you have an opportunity to play,” Espinosa told the media in Spring Training. “You know that isn’t going to be the situation there. I was going to be pushed into a utility role.
“For me, it’s just about getting into a position so I can be consistent. I am looking forward to the year.”
In an interesting twist of fate, the Nationals could be in a position to take a flyer on Espinosa for a utility role, thanks to injuries that have threatened the depth of the Major League club.
Turner is out indefinitely with a fractured wrist, suffered at the end of June. These have historically been 10-week injuries that could keep him out until September. His replacements are Stephen Drew and Wilmer Difo.
Espinosa will likely be headed to the minor leagues, either in the Angels organization (via accepting a designation to the minor leagues) or elsewhere (via release, trade or waivers claim). Returning to the Nats organization could put him back under the tutelage of coaches who understand his history and mechanics better than anyone.
Either way, Espinosa and the Angels have several days to chart the best course of action.