Around the same time the Washington Nationals decided that they wouldn't call Danny Espinosa up from Triple-A Syracuse for the final month of the season, nationals.com writer Bill Ladson's sources told him the team was still trying to trade the struggling 26-year-old infielder. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo has talked recently about Espinosa fighting for the starting job at second with Anthony Rendon in Spring Training, but after Steve Lombardozzi was dealt to Detroit in the Doug Fister deal, the open utility role seemed a more likely one for the '08 3rd Round pick whose .158/.193/.272 start to the season last summer forced the Nationals to call Rendon up sooner than planned.
Rizzo still told reporters he had faith in Espinosa, however, noting often that he hadn't taken his struggles onto the field where he continued to be provide solid defense. Just last week in a conference call following the deal for Fister, the general manager praised his makeup, power and speed so far in his career and predicted he would end up being a productive major leaguer. "'I’ve always been a Danny Espinosa fan and I still am,'" Rizzo said, according to NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman, "'and I think he’s going to have a good major-league career.'" According to reports from the Winter Meetings in Walt Disney World's Swan and Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida tonight, Rizzo reiterated his belief that Espinosa could contribute to the team in 2014:
Probably the most interesting thing Mike Rizzo said: He thinks Danny Espinosa can play third -- and well -- in a utility infield role.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) December 9, 2013
Rizzo also doesn't see a need to add a corner IF. Confident in Espinosa as reserve option, and even said he thinks Espinose can play 3B— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) December 9, 2013
As soon as the Nationals' GM was done speaking, of course, a source Yahoo!Sports.com's Jeff Passan spoke to said the team might be willing to deal their '08 3rd Round pick:
Nationals are shopping infielder Danny Espinosa, who also could fill utility role vacated by Steve Lombardozzi if he stays in Washington.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 9, 2013
Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore added (on Twitter) that the Nationals had already, "...rebuffed many teams, including Tampa and St. Louis, who've tried to buy low," on Espinosa, who followed up on his .236/.323/.414, 29 double, 21 HR, +3.2 fWAR campaign in his first full season in the majors in 2011 with a .247/.314/.402, 37 double, 17 home run, +3.4 fWAR season in 2012 in which he played hurt for the last month after a strong stretch in the second half when he said he finally felt comfortable at the plate. The injury at the end of the 2012 season ended up being a torn rotator cuff which he and the team decided to rehab instead of having it surgically repaired.
Espinosa suffered a fractured wrist on a HBP early in 2013, though it wasn't diagnosed as such until a month later when the pain caused the infielder to finally have it re-examined. Upon being sent down to Triple-A Syracuse to sort out his swing after a DL stint, Espinosa's struggles continued, however, with the infielder posting a .216/.280/.286 line in 75 games and 313 PAs with the Nationals' top affiliate.
When rumors of interest in Robinson Cano surfaced last week, Rizzo said once again in an MLB Network Radio interview that he was comfortable going forward with Rendon at second and Espinosa backing up around the infield.
Mike Rizzo asked about Cano "I don't foresee us jumping into that market" "We feel good about Rendon and Espinosa as a back-up" for 2B #SXM— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 3, 2013
No harm in seeing what's out there though, right?
Here's what the reporters on the scene in Orlando had to say about the drama:
The Nats are determined to not sell low on Danny Espinosa, who Mike Rizzo says could play third. http://t.co/m3hvMLZJqW— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) December 9, 2013
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