Danny Espinosa has been a mess for the past two seasons, going from starting second baseman to bench player for the Nationals while hitting just .199 in 158 total games.
And now the Nationals are thinking about asking the 28-year-old to give up switch-hitting, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
For his career Espinosa has hit .271 with an .804 OPS as a right-handed hitter against left-handed pitching, compared to .213 with a .646 OPS as a left-handed hitter against right-handed pitching.
Of course, it’s not always as simple as those numbers suggest because switch-hitters get about two-thirds of their playing time versus right-handed pitchers and Espinosa has almost zero experience facing righties as a righty.
With that said, at this point it probably can’t hurt to see if Espinosa can learn how to hit reasonably well from the right side full time. His days as a switch-hitting regular are probably gone for good anyway, at least in Washington.
Andrew Miller is the best reliever on the free agent market and, not surprisingly, after several dominant seasons as a setup man he wants to be a closer.
Here’s what Miller’s agent, Mark Rodgers, told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com:
I think Andrew’s evolution in the bullpen and his numbers this year fortify the belief in baseball that he’s a closer-in-waiting–and maybe the time for waiting is over.
Rodgers made sure not to rule out Miller signing with a team that wants to use him as a setup man, because that would unnecessarily weaken his value on the open market, but the 30-year-old left-hander would clearly prefer to pitch the ninth inning somewhere.
Miller has just one career save, but then again everyone lacks closing experience until some team actually gives them a chance to save games. And in terms of Miller’s performance, there’s zero doubt that he has the raw stuff, bat-missing ability, and overall results to thrive in a ninth-inning role.
This season Miller threw 62 innings with a 2.02 ERA and 103/17 K/BB ratio while holding opponents to a .153 batting average and .456 OPS. And since shifting to the bullpen full time three seasons ago Miller has thrown 133 innings with a 2.57 ERA and 13.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com and Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago both report that the White Sox are interested in Astros catcher Jason Castro.
Houston just acquired catcher Hank Conger from the Angels, perhaps making the 27-year-old Castro more expendable.
He made the All-Star team in 2013, but hit just .222 with a .651 OPS in 126 games this season, including an ugly 151/34 K/BB ratio.
Chicago’s starting catcher, Tyler Flowers, was similarly bad this season and has no real track record of big-league success, so the White Sox would be betting on Castro bouncing back with two seasons of team control remaining.
You know yesterday’s story from Bob Nightingale of USA Today that the Royals were interested in trading for Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and his albatross of a contract?
Not surprisingly Jim Salisbury, who covers the Phillies for CSNPhilly.com, says the whole thing is “overblown.”
Salisbury says the Royals might consider Howard, but it wouldn’t be until later in the offseason and only then “if they struck out on other possibilities.”
Howard has two seasons and $60 million left on his contract, which the Phillies are apparently increasingly willing to cover in an effort to simply rid themselves of the 35-year-old former MVP after he hit just .223 with a .690 OPS this season.
In terms of headline-grabbing it’s a step down for the Mets after bringing in Michael Cuddyer yesterday, but they’ve signed infielder/outfielder Alex Castellanos to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training
Castellanos played briefly in the majors for the Dodgers in 2012 and 2013 after being acquired from the Cardinals for Rafael Furcal in 2011, but spent last season at Triple-A for the Padres.
He’s hit .286 with 44 homers, 43 steals, and an .869 OPS in 312 total games at Triple-A, which along with the ability to play second base, third base, and the outfield corners could make him a decent bench option at age 28.