SATURDAY, 3:48pm: The Nationals have informed Espinosa that he will not receive a September call-up, reports the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Assuming that holds true, Kilgore notes, Espinosa will likely not be arbitration-eligible next season. Instead, he will earn league minimum and cede an additional year of team control.
Espinosa had 2.033 years of service time coming into the season, and appears to have logged 79 days this year before he was optioned on June 19th. If he accrues no more service time, then, Espinosa will obviously fall short of three years of service. Neither will he have enough service for Super Two status, and would not qualify anyway because he did not stay on the active roster for the requisite 86 days this season.
While a late-season renaissance would have been even better, these service considerations certainly increase Espinosa's trade value. An acquiring team would have ample, low-cost flexibility to allow Espinosa — who still has options – to try and regain his form. And that team would receive additional upside if Espinosa regains his once-promising career arc. Those same factors, of course, increase his value to the Nats as well. Indeed, Kilgore notes that the organization still has not lowered its asking price on Espinosa and seems disinclined to sell him at a discount.
WEDNESDAY, 12:10pm: The Nationals are in the process of deciding whether or not they will include struggling infielder Danny Espinosa in this year's crop of September call-ups, and MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports that the team is looking to trade the 26-year-old.
Ladson's source said he doesn't anticipate that Espinosa will play a Major League game this season and the Nationals' efforts to trade him have been stifled by the switch-hitter's poor performance since being demoted to Triple-A Syracuse. Espinosa played through a fractured wrist for a month this season and batted just .158/.193/.272 in 167 plate appearances. Since his demotion, he's hitting just .208/.271/.283 in 292 plate appearances.
Espinosa's agent, Scott Boras, said that his client has dealt with a lingering thumb injury for several weeks at Syracuse. It's also worth noting that he played through a torn rotator cuff in 2012, which could obviously still have a lingering effect on his production at the plate. Boras told reporters that other teams do have interest in Espinosa:
"Every park that I go into will ask me about Danny. They want to know what he is doing. So the guy has real value."
Interested teams undoubtedly look at Espinosa's 20-homer power and 20-steal speed as well as his plus defense at second base and shortstop. However, those positives also come with the injury concerns and a long-standing problem with strikeouts; Espinosa has whiffed in 27.1 percent of his career plate appearances and has a whopping 96 strikeouts at Syracuse this season after leading the NL with 189 punchouts in 2012.
Espinosa hit .242/.319/.408 with 38 homers and 37 steals as a regular for the Nats from 2011-12, so trading him at this point would unquestionably be selling with his value at an all-time low. However, this is the second time there have been reports regarding a potential trade of Espinosa, as rival evaluators speculated back in June that playing him at shortstop at Triple-A was an attempt to showcase him as a trade chip. Espinosa has played 32 games at shortstop and 39 at second base since his demotion.