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.

Blue Jays release John Axford

John Axford
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The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.

Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.

Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.

Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.