Nationals likely to leave Danny Espinosa in the minors

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Opening Day second baseman Danny Espinosa has become a forgotten man since the Nationals demoted him to Triple-A in mid-June and it sounds like he won’t be returning to the majors this season.

Rosters expanding on September 1 would make it easy for the Nationals to call Espinosa back up, but manager Davey Johnson indicated to James Wagner of the Washington Post that the team’s September call-ups will be young players.

Espinosa is 26 years old, with four seasons of experience in the majors, although if he were performing decently at Triple-A it would probably be a different story. Instead he’s hit just .202 with two homers and a .544 OPS in 64 games for Syracuse after hitting .158 in 44 games for the Nationals and his horrendous 88/17 K/BB ratio shows what a mess Espinosa has become.

Given that Anthony Rendon now seems entrenched as the Nationals’ starting second baseman trading Espinosa this offseason would make all kinds of sense, although at this point who knows if he even has any value.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.