PHILADELPHIA — The Washington Nationals had indicated for a few weeks that they did not plan to call second baseman Danny Espinosa back up to the major leagues when rosters expanded in September. That became somewhat official on Tuesday when they added five more players to their roster and Espinosa was not among them.
The Nationals view September call-ups as a means to reward their top-level minor leaguers for putting together good seasons. While they view Espinosa as a part of their major league future, they simply felt he did not fall into that category with regard to his offense — even though he is still their best defensive option at second base.
Johnson said Tuesday he also felt that the role Espinosa would be assume is too far below the type of role he feels the second baseman should hold, and he didn’t want him here unless he could play him regularly.
“I consider Danny an everyday player,” Johnson said. “I love Danny. The situation we’re in right now and the struggles he’s had this year, I wouldn’t want him to be sitting around here not playing. I don’t think he would’ve been happy with it.
“I know he’s got a lot of talent. It would be nice to put him in to pinch-run and occasionally pinch-hit and provide some defense. He could do that. But it’s so far down his role, that would be such a lesser role than what I’ve always envisioned for him while he’s been here. So he could be more mad at me, because I did not want him here and not have him in the lineup. It’s that simple.”
After hitting .158 with a .193 on-base percentage and .272 slugging percentage in 44 games in the major leagues, while battling a fracture in his left wrist, Espinosa was optioned to the minor leagues on June 4 and Anthony Rendon has entrenched himself as the Nationals’ second baseman in the time since.
In 75 games at Triple-A, Espinosa hit .216 with a .280 on-base percentage and .286 slugging percentage.