Today on MLBTraderumors there was a brief article about the Washington Nationals, and its desire to trade exiled second baseman Danny Espinosa. Currently, Espinosa is toiling away at AAA, where he is loading up on strikeouts at an incredible pace (96 in in 70 games) and having a frustrating season power-wise, with an ISO of .114 in the majors and .075 in the minors. He also has a paltry six steals through two levels this season, and yeah, the Nationals are just trying to unload the guy.
Those anemic offensive stats seem to be an abberation. Sure, he led the NL in strikeouts with 189 in 2012, but in the dawning of the new age of baseball statistic examination and acceptance, strikeouts are no different (and sometimes less problematic) than a popup or groundout. The guy’s 2013 BABIP are .202 in the majors, and .313 in the minors – both of which are showing a severe case of bad luck as he has only had a MLB BABIP that low only once (2010, his rookie year), and his AAA BABIP comes with a batting average of .208, which makes no sense at all.
Espinosa is a second baseman capable of putting up 20-20 stat lines, which is an incredible thing to put up for trade right now. His career ISO is .165, and he has hit 21 and 17 dongs in ’11 and ’12, and has stolen 17 and 20 bases in those respective season. He can also get on base at a decent clip, with OBP’s from ’10-’12 lining up at 8, 8.7, and 7 (with a career-minor-league-low of 6.2 right now – he’s usually much better, again hinting at an aberration). This could be a prime offensive contributor for the Tigers, seeing as he’s young (turned 26 in April) and he’s under team control until 2017.
But the offensive is only half the story: this guy is a plus defender. His UZR from ’10 to ’13 are 2.3, 1.3, 7.5, and 3.4. His OOZ and RngR are above average for a second baseman, and he’s got a good arm and good instincts. Combining him with Jose Iglesias means a whooooole lot less hits going down the middle, and this also eases the burden of having Prince Fielder galumph along at first.
This scenario eerily reminds me of the Cleveland Indians effectively throwing their hands up in frustration over Jhonny Peralta in 2010, shipping him to the Tigers for a minor leaguer (Giovanni Soto if you’re interested….no, not the catcher). So why not try and buy-low on a high-potential middle infielder again?
Dave Dombrowski, who is all about depth at this point, would be wise to give Mike Rizzo a call to inquire about Espinosa, especially with Omar Infante‘s contract expiring at the end of this season.