The Yankees have elected to add 30-year-old infielder Danny Espinosa on a minor-league deal, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports on Twitter. He’ll receive an invitation to spring training camp, where he’ll compete for the Yankees’ second base job.
Prior to the 2017 season, Espinosa had played exclusively for the Nationals. While he spent most of his career as a reserve infielder, a strong finish to the 2015 season earned him a full time role in 2016 during which he batted .208/.306/.378 while homering 24 times and stealing nine bases. However, he struggled mightily last season across 295 combined plate appearances between the Angels, Rays and Mariners… Espinosa managed just a .523 OPS while striking out nearly 37% of the time.
Espinosa’s true calling card is his excellent defense in the middle infield; he’s been worth a total of 34 runs saved between shortstop and second base over the course of his eight-year MLB career. However, even that once-spectacular defense declined a bit last season. Fangraphs gave him a 2.6 defense rating, which is a career low for the veteran. All told, he played at a full win below replacement level for the 2017 campaign, and he’ll have to rebound significantly in order to convince the Yankees he’s deserving of a roster spot.
With Starlin Castro now in Miami, the 25-year-old Ronald Torreyes figures to be Espinosa’s biggest competitor for the job out of spring training camp. Of course, it’s probably a moot point considering the club is likely just looking for a temporary stopgap until top prospect Gleyber Torres is ready to claim the starting job at the keystone.
Espinosa was Washington’s third round pick in the 2008 draft (87th overall). His MLB debut came on September 1st, 2010, during which he had one hit and an RBI in 2 at-bats. The California State University Long Beach product provided 11.3 WAR during his time with the Nationals prior to a trade that sent him to the Angels in exchange for two minor-league pitchers.