Yankees trade target: Danny Espinosa

Jeff Gross

Plays second? Check. Breathing? Check. Could Danny Espinosa be the man who replaces Robinson Cano?

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports via MLB Trade Rumors' Luke Adams, the Nationals have made Danny Espinosa available. The 27-year-old switch hitter is alive and plays second base, meaning the Yankees could have some interest after the departure of Robinson Cano.

Espinosa saw former first round draft pick Anthony Rendon take his job in Washington while he suffered through an abysmal year caused at least in part by injury. He spent his winter rehabbing a torn rotator cuff then played through an undiagnosed wrist fracture for six weeks after getting hit by a pitch on April 14th. In 44 games Espinosa batted .158/.193/.272 with a pitcher-like wRC+ of 23. He was placed on the DL on June 2nd and didn't return. Like many players already on the Yankees, 2013 was a season he'd surely rather forget.

In 2011 and 2012, though, as the Nationals' starting second baseman, Espinosa was a solid contributor. Over those two seasons, he managed a triple slash of .242/.319/.408 with a wRC+ of 99 and an fWAR of 6.6, all the while showing considerable power for a middle infielder, hitting 38 home runs for an ISO of .166. Besides a league average bat, Espinosa's best assets are his speed and defense. He stole 37 bases between 2011 and 2012 and has a 14.4 UZR at second for his career. He can play short in a pinch, too. In 36 games there in 2012 he scored a UZR/150 of 22.6.

Espinosa's certainly not someone who'll make fans forget about Cano. After major injuries to his shoulder and wrist, there's no guarantee that his hitting ability, particularly his power will return. Even when healthy, he doesn't get on base as much as you'd like and he strikes out like there's no tomorrow - he led the NL in K's in 2012 with 189. Still, his age and the fact that he's entering just his first year of arbitration eligibility might make Espinosa preferable to a mediocre high-priced free agent option like Omar Infante.

Given Espinosa's missing-in-action status throughout 2013, and the fact that they have no place to play him now, the Nationals' asking price can't be that high. This isn't someone the Yankees would have to deal Brett Gardner for - Washington wouldn't have a definite role for him anyway. If a deal could be worked for a couple of Yankee fringe prospects, Espinosa could be an option at second. At worst his career .262/.334/.453 line versus lefties could make him a decent platoon option and help balance out the lineup.

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