With the New York Yankees losing Robinson Cano to the Seattle Mariners they have a void at second base that must be filled. Yes, the Yankees did sign Kelly Johnson but he was signed with the intention of being something of a super-utility player who will see significant playing time all over the diamond. Right now, the best fit is Omar Infante but he could command something in the neighborhood of $10 million per year in this crazy market. The trade market doesn’t offer much right now but the Washington Nationals appear willing to deal Danny Espinosa.
Espinosa struggled mightily last season. He hit just .158/.193/.272 with three home runs, 12 RBI, nine doubles and 47 strikeouts in 158 at-bats in 44 games. In 2012, Espinosa hit .247/.315/.402 with 17 homers, 56 RBI and 37 doubles. He did lead the National League with 189 strikeouts but he also added 20 steals. In 2011, his first full season in the Major Leagues, Espinosa hit a career-high 21 home runs while slashing .236/.323/.414.
Last season, Espinosa was never fully healthy. He tried playing through a thumb injury last season and never got into a groove before being sent down to the minors. However, Espinosa is still young and won’t turn 27 until April 25th and is a switch-hitter who should bring a decent power bat to the lineup. He is also under team control until after the 2017 season.
The problem with Espinosa is he is very much a swing and miss type player. That hasn’t stopped Brian Cashman from acquiring players who were similar players in the past. The problem is, the Nationals still hold Espinosa is high regard and would consider using him as a replacement for Steve Lombardozzi as a super utility guy if they don’t find the right trade.
The Yankees have an obvious need and if Infante signs elsewhere the Yankees could very well turn their attention to the trade market. Espinosa can play second or shortstop, can be a power bat at the bottom of the order and can bring some speed to the basepaths.
The Yankees will feature a left-handed heavy lineup this season which isn’t anything new. Espinosa would offer some balance as he has hit left-handers to a .262/.334/.453 while only hitting righties at a .220/.293/.378 clip. Perhaps the Yankees would view Espinosa as part of a platoon, perhaps with Kelly Johnson or Brendan Ryan.
The asking price would obviously determine whether or not he is worth the investment from the Yankees. If the Nationals are eager to part ways with Espinosa then the Yankees should jump in and see what it would take. Espinosa might just need a fresh start and a clean bill of health to return to one of the more intriguing second basemen in baseball.