Washington Nationals infielder Danny Espinosa is coming off of a disappointing 2013 season, but that doesn't mean the club plans to rush into a trade for the 26-year-old. Although the Nats will give him a chance to win the starting job at second base this spring, "at least a dozen teams have inquired" about him, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. With that kind of interest, it's hard to rule out a potential deal.
Last season, Espinosa battled the Mendoza line in a brief stint with the major league club, finishing at just .193 with a 47 to 4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He continued to struggle with the team's Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse, hitting just .216/.280/.286 in 75 games.
Of course, the Nationals haven't forgotten about the two three-win seasons he put together in 2011 and 2012. He played in all but six games during those two years, and batted .242/.319/.408 with 38 home runs and 37 steals.
The Nationals have little incentive to move him unless they are offered an immediate upgrade. Espinosa is an excellent defender at second base, and he can occasionally fill in at shortstop without horrifying results.
He's cost-controlled through the arbitration process until 2018, and of course, he might just beat out Anthony Rendon for the starting job at second this spring. If he can return to his pre-2013 form in the batter's box, he could be a pretty valuable utility man for Washington at the very least.
The team still holds two minor league options on Espinosa, meaning they can still stash him away in Syracuse if the offers they're receiving don't meet their valuation. It seems like a trade at this point would have to be an obvious win for the Nats, because they have several other options that are preferable to selling low on a potentially impactful player.