Are the Nationals showcasing Danny Espinosa for a trade?

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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.

Michael Pineda throws off mound for first time since Tommy John surgery

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According to MLB.com associate reporter Jarrid Denney, right-hander Michael Pineda threw off a mound Wednesday morning at Target Field for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Pineda was signed to a two-year, $10 million free agent contract this winter by the Twins, who are probably more focused on what he might be able to do in 2019 rather than 2018.

He had the reconstructive elbow surgery last July 18, so he won’t be an option for the Minnesota rotation until probably late August or September of this year. Still, that deal seems like a nice gamble given the price point and the possibility that he will regain his form as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter. That he’s making steady progress in his rehab makes the situation all the more encouraging.

Pineda, 29, holds a 4.05 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 687 strikeouts in 680 career major league innings.