Finding stability in the infield has been an issue for the Minnesota Twins over the last few seasons, and their inability to cultivate infielders in their minor league system has been a factor in their lack of success as a team. Brian Dozier appears to have locked down the starting job at second base for the forseeable future with a solid 2013 campaign up to this point (17 home runs, 60 RBI, .994 fielding percentage), but could a trade be made to secure a potential long-term answer at shortstop?
Danny Espinosa has had a dismal season for the Washington Nationals, hitting just .158 with three home runs and 12 RBI in 44 games (167 plate appearances). He spent some of the season at Triple-A Syracuse, but the results weren’t a lot better (.216, two home runs and 22 RBI over 313 plate appearances). He was hit in the right wrist by a pitch in April, and tests over a month later revealed a fracture that eventually landed him on the disabled list in June. Add in a left shoulder issue from 2012 that he spent the offseason rehabbing and may have lingered into this season, and 2013 will go down as a lost year for the 26-year old.
Washington reportedly attempted to trade Espinosa prior to the end of August, and then did not promote him when rosters expanded because they did not want him to sit on the bench. Ian Desmond is firmly in place at shortstop for the Nationals, and with Anthony Rendon and Steve Lombardozzi both seeing time at second base there is little room for Espinosa. Still it seems bizarre that the Nationals have soured so much on him, as if his above-average defense and solid power and speed offensively (38 home runs and 37 stolen bases in 2011 and 2012 combined) have been completely forgotten.
Washington looks certain to dangle Espinosa on the trade market this winter, and I think the Twins need to be among the teams that are interested. He has been predominantly a second baseman during his big league career (352 games, 39 at shortstop), but Espinosa spent most of his minor league career at shortstop.
Espinosa is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, and the Nationals could simply choose to non-tender him if they can’t trade him at some point. Either way it should not cost the Twins a lot to bring Espinosa into the fold, and for once they would be buying low on a player as opposed to trading one of their own players at or near the bottom of his value.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.