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Michael Cuddyer Rumors
Japanese right-hander Chihiro Kaneko is visiting the United States to get a first-hand look at the atmosphere of Major League Baseball by visiting the World Series, according to Yahoo Sports Japan (Japanese link). The 31-year-old Kaneko is the ace of Nippon Professional Baseball’s Orix Buffaloes and is eligible to be posted this offseason, if his team agrees to post him (and, if he expresses a desire to jump to MLB). Kaneko has been scouted personally by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. in September as well as the Red Sox and Padres, according to the Yahoo report. In 184 innings this season, Kaneko posted a sparkling 1.91 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9, allowing a minuscule seven homers in an excellent season. In parts of nine pro seasons, Kaneko has a 2.69 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 in 1279 1/3 innings.
Here’s more pertaining to the National League East…
- Some familiar with the Mets‘ thinking believe that the team would be interested in adding Michael Cuddyer on a two-year deal, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. The Mets are known to be hesitant to deal from their crop of high-upside young arms, and Cuddyer would provide them with a fairly versatile piece that can add some punch to the lineup. Martino also notes that the Mets are monitoring Yoenis Cespedes and consider Rafael Montero more tradeable than Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom. For what it’s worth, Cuddyer grew up in the same town as David Wright and the two have long been friends and offseason workout partners. MLBTR’s Zach Links recently profiled Cuddyer and projected a two-year, $22MM contract.
- More from Martino, who wrote yesterday that the Mets could be nearing an extension with assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi. The former Blue Jays GM has been with the Mets since 2010 and currently oversees the club’s pro scouting operations while also serving as an adviser to GM Sandy Alderson.
- There’s been a great deal of speculation that Evan Gattis could be trade bait this winter, but MLB.com’s Mark Bowman takes a long look at whether or not the Braves should entertain offers for Justin Upton and/or Jason Heyward as well. Each corner outfielder is set to become a free agent next winter. Moving one would allow the team to keep Gattis and play him in the outfield, although as Bowman notes, that would significantly weaken the club’s defense. Still, with each dangerously close to the open market, the front office could move one for a group of prospects that would further position the team for success as it heads into a new stadium in 2017, Bowman writes.
Despite an injury plagued 2014, Michael Cuddyer figures to be amongst the more heavily pursued free agent position players of the winter. The 35-year-old (36 by Opening Day) played in just 49 games in 2014, but his offensive numbers are more in less in line with his 2013 output and there’s always a market for effective bats with some pop. His last trip through free agency netted a three-year, $31.5MM contract and he’s now in position to land yet another lucrative deal.
Over the last three seasons in Colorado (280 games), Cuddyer owns a .307/.362/.525 batting line with 46 homers. His best work in Colorado came in the sandwich year of 2013 when he was NL batting champion with a .331 average at the plate. And, while Coors Field is the most hitter-friendly park in the majors, it wasn’t just the home altitude that helped Cuddyer knock 20 homers and post the NL’s fourth-highest slugging percentage (.530) in that season. The veteran hit eleven homers at Coors and nine dingers on the road in 2013. Meanwhile, his wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus, explained masterfully by Fangraphs here) of 138 was the best showing of his career at the time, putting him well ahead of the league average and 14 percentage points above his previous watermark from Minnesota in 2009. In a smaller sample, he topped that with a wRC+ of 151 this past season.
Somewhat surprisingly, Cuddyer consistently posts average or better marks in baserunning value, according to Fangraphs. Cuddyer has a strong career BsR of 8.3 and his recent marks of 0.0, 1.1, and 1.3 in the last three seasons would indicate that he has been at least an average runner. At this point in his career, he’s probably not the fastest guy out there, but the numbers would suggest that he’s smart on the basepaths.
Cuddyer offers some versatility as he could be slotted in as a first baseman or an outfielder. He also won’t have a qualifying offer attached to him and won’t require the forfeiture of draft picks.
Cuddyer averaged roughly 150 games per year in his final three seasons with the Twins, which helped lead to his big payday in Colorado. Unfortunately, he’s averaged ~93 games per season since and saw time in just 49 games in 2014. In 2012, an oblique injury cost him the majority of August and all of September. He played 130 games in 2013, but a neck injury shelved him for two weeks in May. Last season, a painful shoulder fracture and a pair of strained hamstrings led to Cuddyer being mostly out of commission. Teams are sure to be wary about that as he approached his age-36 season.
Cuddyer has experience at multiple positions but he’s not Gold Glove material at any of them. For his career, Cuddyer has a -8.0 UZR/150 rating in right field and his -4.4 rating at first base also leaves much to be desired. Unfortunately, Cuddyer’s shaky defense has watered down his significant offensive contributions, especially in recent years. In 2013, despite his strong performance at the plate, he registered a rather pedestrian WAR of 2.4.
Michael and his wife, Claudia, have three children. When he’s not on the diamond, Cuddyer likes to indulge in his own favorite childhood pastime: magic. In 2012, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com asked an audience member for his take on Cuddyer’s skills.
“He’s blowing guys’ minds here,” Jason Giambi said of Cuddyer. “[The tricks] are as good as any I’ve ever seen, and trust me, I live in Vegas and I get to see a lot of those shows. They’re pretty incredible.”
As Cuddyer told Crasnick, he used the tricks as an icebreaker with his teammates when he arrived in Colorado. Then-GM Dan O’Dowd spoke highly of Cuddyer as a positive figure in the locker room.
“Not only is he a good player — and will be for a significantly long period of time — but if you talk to anybody in the game, he innately just ‘gets it.’ He challenges people in his own way to be all about the team,” O’Dowd said.
Cuddyer loves being in Colorado, owner Dick Monfort wants to keep him, and manager Walt Weiss hopes that he’ll return since he “means so much to [the] club, in ways that go beyond the stat sheet.” Unfortunately, monetary constraints will probably get in the way of a reunion. Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post recently wrote that it’d be hard to see the Rockies paying even $4-6MM for Cuddyer next season. You never know for sure how the market will break, but that probably won’t get it done.
The Pirates, Brewers, and Marlins are among the teams that are expected to shop for a first baseman and the Padres could be added to that list if they don’t have confidence in Yonder Alonso‘s abilities. Meanwhile, the Astros and Mets will be shopping for a corner outfielder and Cuddyer could fit within their budgets. Cuddyer also holds appeal as a DH so we could see a return to the American League in that role.
If Cuddyer was coming off of something resembling a full season, his contract outlook would be quite different. Given his age and health issues, a one or two-year deal seems likely but another three-year deal probably isn’t in the cards.
Still, there will be plenty of teams willing to give Cuddyer a substantial sum of money and it could even rival the average annual value of his three-year, $31.5MM Rockies contract. I predict Cuddyer will land a two-year, $22MM deal this winter. If he stays healthy, it may not be his last big payday either.
The Rockies’ payroll will likely remain near its Opening Day mark of $94MM, a team spokesperson tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. This is problematic for the Rockies, Saunders writes, given that Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Jorge De La Rosa will combine to earn $48.5MM of that figure next season. Season-ending injuries to Tulowitzki and Gonzalez will make it difficult to extract full prospect value for either star in a potentially cost-saving trade, meaning that the team is likely to have 51.8 percent of its payroll tied up in three players. That, in turn, would make it difficult to adequately address the rotation, bullpen and catching situation this offseason — all of which are areas of need in Denver. Geivett recently reiterated to Saunders that the team has had no discussions about trading either Tulowitzki or Gonzalez
Here’s more from Saunders and more on the Rockies…
- Saunders spoke to senior VP of Major League operations Bill Geivett about the team’s $12MM option on Brett Anderson. Geivett said that the Rockies “really think he’s an impact starter when healthy,” but that the option would be discussed following the season. Given the team’s payroll constraints, it seems almost impossible to imagine Colorado paying Anderson $12MM after starting just 32 games over the past four seasons.
- Saunders also notes that Michael Cuddyer is a favorite of owner Dick Monfort and manager Walt Weiss, both of whom want the veteran back. However, Saunders feels it’s difficult to imagine the Rockies paying even $4-6MM for Cuddyer next season, and I’d wager that he’s looking for more than that despite an injury plagued 2014. Cuddyer, 36 next March, has batted .328/.382/.530 in 170 games over the past two seasons.
- Twenty-eight-year-old lefty Yohan Flande will get a couple of starts before season’s end in an audition for 2015, writes Saunders’ colleague, Nick Groke. Weiss said the organization feels Flande can transition to the bullpen if needed, but they’ve yet to give up on him as a starting pitcher. MLB.com’s Thomas Harding notes that top prospect Eddie Butler, too, will receive a look in the final two weeks. While it seems Colorado is evaluating its internal options, I have to think they’ll at least attempt to lure in a veteran starter to complement De La Rosa alongside younger arms such as Butler, Jordan Lyles, Tyler Matzek and, eventually, Jon Gray. Jhoulys Chacin also figures to be in the mix, though he’s battled shoulder injuries this season.
- A look at Cot’s Contracts reveals that the Rockies currently have about $61.4MM on the books in 2015. That doesn’t include arbitration raises for Chacin, Drew Stubbs, Juan Nicasio, Rex Brothers, Tyler Chatwood, Wilin Rosario and Adam Ottavino. Wilton Lopez and Nicasio seem like clear non-tender candidates, and it’s possible that a few others could meet that fate as well. Nonetheless, Colorado’s glut of forthcoming arbitration raises doesn’t seem to leave the team with much wiggle room, if payroll truly is to remain in the $94MM range.
The Brewers‘ recent struggles could lead to firings in Milwaukee, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel writes. The Brewers fired Ned Yost after an ugly two-week stretch in the midst of a contending season in 2008. Now, after spending the majority of the season in first place, the Brewers run the risk of missing the playoffs — they would just miss the second Wild Card if the season ended today. It’s not clear if the Brewers’ skid might cause owner Mark Attanasio to want to make moves involving GM Doug Melvin or manager Ron Roenicke. Here’s more from the National League.
- Matt Thornton has come up big in the Nationals‘ bullpen since the Nats claimed him from the Yankees, Tom Schad of the Washington Times writes. Thornton has pitched 9 1/3 innings for the Nats so far, striking out eight batters, walking one and allowing no runs in his first stint as a National Leaguer. “Haven’t faced a lot of these guys, so it’s kind of all new,” Thornton says. “But at the same time, they haven’t faced me. So I’m using that to my advantage.” MLBTR readers recently ranked Thornton the fifth most impactful August addition of any team, behind Adam Dunn, Jacob Turner, Jonathan Broxton and Josh Willingham.
- Rockies manager Walt Weiss would like to see the team re-sign Michael Cuddyer, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. “I would like to see him back here,” says Weiss. “I just think he means so much to our club, in ways that go beyond the stat sheet.” Cuddyer has suffered through an injury-plagued season and will be 36 by the time next season starts, but he’s hit very well with the Rockies, posting a .331/.380/.546 line in 142 plate appearances in 2014 that’s similar to his output over a full season last year.
- It’s unclear whether the Rockies will pick up Brett Anderson‘s $12MM option, Saunders writes. The option contains a $1.5MM buyout. Anderson has been effective this season, but injuries have limited him to just 43 1/3 innings so far, and he hasn’t topped 100 innings in a season in 2010. The Rockies need to try to figure out if Anderson’s injury troubles are likely to continue, and whether they might be able to lure a better pitcher to Coors — never easy to do — with that $12MM.
The Rockies placed first baseman/outfielder Michael Cuddyer on revocable waivers on Sunday, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but Colorado revoked the waivers after he experienced hamstring discomfort this week (Twitter link).
The injury for Cuddyer, however minor, clearly came at a poor time. It’s unclear whether or not the Rockies would have traded the 2013 NL batting champion even if he had not been injured, but they now won’t have the opportunity to do so prior to the expiration of his three-year, $31.5MM contract at the end of the season.
A team in need of offense certainly could have benefited from the addition of Cuddyer, who is hitting .331/.386/.533 dating back to the beginning of the 2013 campaign. The 35-year-old, however, is no stranger to the injury bug. He’s had four separate DL stints over the course of his current three-year pact and has tallied just 141 plate appearances this season after missing much of the year with a fractured shoulder. (Cuddyer suffered the injury playing third base for the first time since 2010 while filling in for then-injured Nolan Arenado.)
It’s not clear at this time which club claimed Cuddyer, but it’s unlikely that he’d have escaped the National League on waivers. The Pirates, Braves, Cardinals and Giants are all contending clubs that could use an additional bat and find room for Cuddyer in their lineup. An acquiring club would’ve had to pay Cuddyer roughly $2.35MM through season’s end, had a trade been worked out.
The Rockies could technically place Cuddyer on waivers a second time, but the waivers would no longer be revocable at that point, and Colorado doesn’t seem likely to run him through waivers solely to shed his remaining salary.
The Nationals will promote top prospect Michael Taylor today, a source tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. The 23-year-old, previously known more for his bat than his glove, has risen quickly through Double-A and Triple-A this season, hitting .315/.401/.547 with 22 homers and 35 stolen bases along the way. Outfielder Steven Souza was placed on the disabled list with a left shoulder contusion to make room for Taylor. MLB.com ranked Taylor 72nd on the midseason edition of its Top 200 prospects list. Washington will have control of him through at least the 2019 season if he is in the Majors to stay.
Here are some more Sunday morning links from around the senior circuit…
- Michael Cuddyer is focused on getting healthy rather than proving himself to potential free agent suitors or to the Rockies in the season’s final weeks, writes Nick Groke of the Denver Post. The 35-year-old, who is finishing up a three-year, $31.5MM contract, has been out since April with a broken bone in his left shoulder. Cuddyer elected to rehab at the lower levels of the minor leagues to strengthen his legs and to once again experience the camaraderie of that environment, he explains. His decision has not been taken for granted by the young players he’s encountered thus far, as Rockies 2014 first-rounder Forrest Wall has already picked Cuddyer’s brain about preparation for games and his approach at the plate. The Rockies would like to retain Cuddyer, though they aren’t sure at what price they’d be comfortable, Groke notes.
- The Dodgers seem resigned to the fact that Hanley Ramirez will be placed on the disabled list with an oblique injury, writes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. Ramirez has been determined to stay off the DL in his contract year, says Gurnick, but he’s still missed 25 starts with various injuries to this point. Ramirez ranked third on the most recent edition of MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, with his lack of durability being a primary reason for his fall from the top spot. A stint on the DL — which would be his fifth since the onset of the 2011 season — certainly won’t help his free agent stock.
- Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review spoke to Pedro Alvarez and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle about the possibility of Alvarez moving across the diamond to first base. Alvarez, whom Hurdle recently said had lost his starting job at third base, is open to the idea and called it a “no-brainer” rather than offer any negative comments about the move. It’d present the Bucs with an interesting logjam at first, however, as Alvarez ($4.25MM), Ike Davis ($3.5MM) and Gaby Sanchez ($2.3MM) are all due raises on their 2014 salaries via arbitration this winter. Price notes that Sanchez has begun working out over at third base.
There were several notes yesterday on the Padres‘ search for a new GM. The club interviewed Rangers assistant GM A.J. Preller yesterday, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock, joining prior candidates Larry Beinfest, Logan White of the Dodgers, Ray Montgomery of the Diamondbacks, and Billy Eppler of the Yankees. Today, the team had a sit-down with Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen, per Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com (via Twitter). Meanwile, Cardinals assistant GM Mike Girsch has withdrawn himself from consideration, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). As Nightengale further tweets, some potential candidates have expressed a belief that it will take upwards of two to three years to effect a turnaround in San Diego.
Here’s the latest trade deadline chatter from the Friars and the rest of the NL West:
- The Padres are asking for a big return to move late-inning righties Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). A reunion with the Tigers makes sense for Benoit, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, because the sides parted on good terms.
- The Dodgers are looking into the starting pitching market, particularly after losing Josh Beckett to the 15-day DL, reports Shaikin. Though Los Angeles hopes Beckett’s hip impingement will only cause him to miss one start (with the benefit of the All-Star break), the club is readying for a longer absence. Of course, Paul Maholm remains in the fold, and the club has fill-in options at Triple-A, but those appear to be temporary options. Shaikin says that the team lacks the kind of rotation depth that it would prefer, and could pursue either a depth arm (he gives Jake Peavy and Bartolo Colon as hypothetical examples) or a high-end pitcher such as David Price or Cole Hamels.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean says that his team is willing to consider any and all trade proposals, reports Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News. “We’ve told everybody that everybody we have is in play,” said the long-tenured GM. “There are no untouchables in our organization.” While he expressed a desire to be patient, he expressed consternation at the team’s recent struggles. “Unfortunately, we’ve leaked oil in a lot of areas,” said Sabean. “That further confuses what you think you might want to do or have to do in and around the trade deadline.” As far as where an addition could be made, Sabean indicated that many spots are in play: “All our prospects are in play, but at this point we need bullpen help, you can always use another starter, second base, bench help,” said Sabean. “Just a lot of areas where you need shoring up and obviously we’re not [going to] be able to do that totally in the trade market.”
- Last night, we took a look at some comments from Rockies owner Dick Monfort, courtesy of Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Notably, he said that he has no plans to deal star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. This morning, Saunders posted the full transcript of his interview with Monfort, and there is plenty more to cover. Monfort says that the organization’s greatest need is starting pitching depth, and said he “would love to have another starting pitcher before the trade deadline,” preferably “somebody that we could have control of for a period of time.” The club had interest in acquiring Jeff Samardzija, but “the asking price was Eddie Butler and some other stuff,” which Monfort found too steep.
- Though Colorado has one of the worst records in the league, Monfort says that the team is not a seller, at least at this point. After weathering the injuries and a tough stretch in the schedule, he said that he is holding out hope that the Rockies can creep back into the wild card picture. Monfort said that he does not anticipate trading starter Jorge De La Rosa or outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who he “would like to figure out a way to keep” beyond this season.
Here’s the latest out of the Mile High City…
- Michael Cuddyer hasn’t spoken to the Rockies about a contract extension, though he tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that he would certainly listen to such an offer. “I love it here….I like [the] guys, I like the organization and I like everything about it. It would definitely be one of the tops on my list,” Cuddyer said. The veteran is currently hoping for a good diagnosis on his shoulder injury and hopes he can return to action before the end of the season. Cuddyer is set to be a free agent this winter.
- Jorge de la Rosa is another pending Rockies free agent who could be traded, though could re-sign with Colorado this winter, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman notes. Heyman ranks de la Rosa on the low side of his latest trade value stock watch piece, but the southpaw bounced back from a tough June with a quality start and win over the Dodgers on Saturday.
- With Troy Tulowitzki healthy and producing at an MVP-type level, Fangraphs’ Mike Petriello argues that it’s time for the Rockies to trade their superstar. Colorado’s hopes of contending in the near future look shaky at best, Petriello opines, so there’s no point in keeping Tulowitzki around on a losing team.
The rise of Pirates call-up Gregory Polanco from a virtually unknown international signee to a top prospect has been quite rare in recent history, writes Alex Speier in an ESPN Insider piece. Slowly but surely, the 22-year-old tightened his skills to match his raw tools, and his now-obvious upside emerged.
Here’s more from the National League:
- While Polanco is undoubtedly an exciting addition for the Pirates, the team should nevertheless be prepared to sell over the summer, opines Paul Swydan of ESPN.com (Insider link). Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano are among the pieces that the team could consider moving, he says. Meanwhile, the Mets and Padres are other NL clubs that Swydan says should look to move pieces.
- While Swydan does not discuss their situation, the Phillies also seem like possible sellers, though it is hard to know the club’s thinking. Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com discusses the trade-worthiness of several of the team’s possible deadline chips.
- The Mets‘ struggles this year are bad enough that they have shifted the team’s seemingly promising trajectory, writes Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. The team’s key cog, third baseman David Wright, says that he remains committed to the Mets and has no desire to be dealt. (Of course, that seems a rather unlikely outcome regardless.) “I knew that when I signed my extension, I knew that things were not going to be easy,” he said. “If I wanted the easy way out, I would have signed somewhere else. The challenge of it, the loyalty to the organization, the direction I think we’re going, yes, we’ve gone through some rough stretches … but that is the process.”
- The Rockies, who dropped their ninth of ten games tonight, are now dealing with another spate of bad injury news. In addition to placing recent top prospect call-up Eddie Butler on the 15-day DL after his first big league start, the team learned today that it will be without two key veterans for some time. Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez will undergo exploratory surgery on the left index finger that has bothered him this year, reports Nick Groke of the Denver Post (via Twitter). And right fielder Michael Cuddyer has suffered a fracture of the glenoid socket in his right shoulder, which will keep him out for at least six to eight weeks, as Cody Ulm of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Now well off the pace in the NL West, the Rockies would need a quick turnaround to position themselves as contenders as the trade deadline approaches.
- In need of arms, the Rockies will call up 23-year-old lefty Tyler Matzek to start on Wednesday against the Braves, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports on Twitter. Once a top-25 prospect league-wide and the 11th overall choice in the 2009 draft, Matzek has climbed through the minors even as his prospect shine has dimmed somewhat. After opening the year rated 12th among Colorado prospects by Baseball America, which noted that struggles with consistency and command could push him to the bullpen, Matzek has worked to a 4.05 ERA in his first 66 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level. More importantly, perhaps, he has worked to a career-best 4.2 BB/9 at Colorado Springs while also racking up 8.2 K/9.
- ESPN.com’s Keith Law has posted his round-up (Insider link) of the draft haul from National League clubs. He says that the Diamondbacks brought back an impressive haul across the board, and casts some doubt on some of the Cubs‘ early-round selections while noting that the team went after high-upside arms further down.
Fireballing Brewers prospect Johnny Hellweg, 25, has been diagnosed with a torn UCL and is headed to visit Dr. James Andrews, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Hellweg, the club’s 7th overall prospect in the eyes of MLB.com, has been working at Triple-A after briefly reaching the bigs last year with Milwaukee. He put up a 6.75 ERA in 30 2/3 big league frames in 2013, but had a 3.14 mark in 131 2/3 minor league innings (albeit with 6.4 K/9 against 5.7 BB/9).
Here’s more from the National League:
- Michael Cuddyer and the Rockies are in no rush to consider a new deal, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Cuddyer, 35, is set to complete his three-year, $31.5MM deal this season, and says he hopes to play two or three more seasons. But he is planning to finish out his contract and consider his options down the line.
- The Cubs plan to take the best player available with the fourth overall pick in the upcoming amateur draft, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Though the team is stocked with well-regarded field prospects, and somewhat less flush with young arms, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says they will “take the best player, regardless of position,” explaining that he will look to make “the best investment, the best bet on that player’s career.” The team is hopeful of building pitching depth from this year’s amateur pool, even if that does not come through the first choice. “There’s tremendous depth in this class,” said Epstein. “It’s more depth than elite, per se. But we should be coming out with a good pitching haul when it’s said and done.”
- Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa is in the midst of a bounce-back campaign, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. After struggling mightily last year, and reportedly drawing significant trade interest from teams looking to take a chance on a turnaround for the 26-year-old switch-hitter, Espinosa is off to a .273/.333/.455 start through his first 59 plate appearances. He has taken over as the regular at second, with Anthony Rendon shifting to third while Ryan Zimmerman is on the DL. Espinosa’s rough 2013 was not without its benefits for the Nats, as his demotion allowed the team to pause his service clock: with just 2.113 years entering this season, Espinosa will not be eligible for free agency until 2018.