Danny Espinosa didn’t exactly have a great 2013 season. Due largely to playing with a fractured wrist, Espinosa posted a .465 OPS, resulting in a stint on the disabled list and a demotion to Triple-A Syracuse. Anthony Rendon took over and was more or less average offensively with some hiccups on defense. Nonetheless, an upgrade.
According to Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington, Espinosa asked new manager Matt Williams for a chance to win back his job at second base. As a result, Williams is holding an “open competition” at second base between Espinosa and Rendon during spring training.
“I believe it’s open competition,” Williams said. “And that’s all you can say about it at this point. They haven’t even taken their first grounder officially yet. But I think that it’s good to have competition in spring. It makes guys come into camp ready … There’s no favorite at this point. We’re going to give them both ample opportunity to become the starter, and we’ll see where we go.”
Despite what Williams said, one would have to consider Espinosa the underdog. In the event Rendon remains the starter, Espinosa could serve in a utility role, backing up at second base, third base, and shortstop.
Second base is one of the only areas still up in the air for the Nats. The #5 spot in the rotation will see some competition between Tanner Roark, Ross Detwiler, and Taylor Jordan. Otherwise, you can write just about everyone else in pen.
This is more significant for basketball fans than baseball fans, but Magic Johnson is taking over basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Dan Feldman over at PBT has the full story on that.
For our purposes, you probably know that Johnson is part of the Dodgers ownership group. Anthony McCullough of the L.A. Times got comment from the Dodgers, saying that despite his new full-time job, his status with the Dodgers will be unchanged:
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I’m not entirely certain what Magic does with the Lakers, so the first clause in Kasten’s comment may be doing most of the heavy lifting here.
Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are closing in on a deal with catcher Matt Wieters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that it’s a two-year deal. UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is for two years, at $21 million. There is an opt-out for him after year one. He will get $10 million in 2017 and, if he returns in 2018, he’ll get $11 million.
Wieters was not expected to go this long without signing, but his market, which many thought would be robust, never materialized. The Nats had been rumored to be interested for months, but they were apparently waiting to swoop in late and get what one presumes will be a bargain.
Wieters, 30, finished last season hitting .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI in 464 plate appearances. The Nationals currently have Derek Norris and Jose Lobaton, so who falls where in the catcher fight in Washington is unclear, but one presumes that Wieters getting a two-year deal puts him at the top of the depth chart.