Danny Espinosa was demoted to Triple-A last week after Anthony Rendon overtook him as the Nationals’ second baseman and now Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that Espinosa is playing shortstop in the minors.
Espinosa was originally a shortstop before shifting to second base in the majors, but the Nationals have Ian Desmond entrenched as the starter there. So why would they be giving Espinosa time at shortstop?
Several “rival executives” told Kilgore they think it’s a way for the Nationals to showcase Espinosa for a potential trade, giving other teams a chance to evaluate him at multiple positions. First and foremost Espinosa needs to show that he’s healthy after hitting just .158 while playing through a shoulder injury, but if he’s fallen out of the Nationals’ long-term plans there are always plenty of teams in the market for shortstop help.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.