[Updated Angels depth chart at Roster Resource]
Espinosa was acquired from the Nationals last offseason as a possible answer to their long-standing hole at second base, though 2017 has been a disastrous year for the 30-year-old. Espinosa has hit just .162/.237/.276 over 254 plate appearances for Los Angeles, owning both the lowest wRC+ (40) and the sixth-highest strikeout rate (35.8%) of any player with at least 250 PA this season. While his defensive numbers have still been solid-to-average depending on the metric (+3.4 UZR/150, zero Defensive Runs Saved), Espinosa’s offensive futility has made him a below-replacement level player.
While Espinosa has never been much of a hitter over his career, there were signs that he had turned a corner at the plate last season, hitting 24 homers and posting strong numbers against left-handed pitching. Between that offensive promise and his excellent defensive track record, the Angels thought they were obtaining good value for a second baseman, at Espinosa’s $5.425MM price tag after avoiding arbitration.
Now, unless another team works out a trade with the Angels or claims Espinosa on waivers, the Halos will be on the hook for the roughly $2MM remaining on Espinosa’s contract. The infielder is a free agent this winter and may be hard-pressed to find a guaranteed Major League deal, barring a turn-around with another team in the second half of the season.
Nick Franklin and Cliff Pennington will form a platoon at second base for the time being in Los Angeles, though the position is a clear target area for the Halos if they choose to be buyers at the trade deadline. The Angels just got Mike Trout back from the disabled list, though with a 45-49 record and a four-game deficit in the wild card hunt, they’ll need to get on track quickly to justify making a purchase before July 31. Not many teams are looking for second base help this summer, so the Angels could enjoy a wide berth in the market, and they’ve already been linked to one long-term asset in Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon.