Espinosa traded to Angels for two minor league pitchers

Danny Espinosa’s long and often tumultuous tenure with the Nationals came to end Saturday night when the veteran infielder was traded to the Angels for a pair of minor league pitchers.

Coming to Washington’s farm system are 25-year-old right-handers Kyle McGowin and Austin Adams. McGowin, who was 9-14 with a 5.83 ERA in 27 combined starts between the Angels’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, was rated the organization’s 20th-best prospect, according to Adams, who posted a 3.05 ERA with 61 strikeouts and 24 walks in 41 1/3 relief innings at Double-A, did not crack the system’s top 30 prospects list.

espinosa-hands-up-bat-white-sidebar.pngIt’s an unceremonious end to Espinosa’s up-and-down career with the Nationals, though it’s not a surprising conclusion given recent events.

The 29-year-old’s status with the Nationals appeared to be in limbo when the club completed its blockbuster deal for Adam Eaton on Wednesday. Eaton’s acquisition from the White Sox, in exchange for three top pitching prospects, pushes Trea Turner from center field to shortstop and left Espinosa out of a starting job.

On the heels of a season in which he hit .209 with a career-high 24 homers and 72 RBIs but 174 strikeouts, Espinosa did not appear Saturday at Nats Winterfest. Now the Orange County, Calif., native will get a chance to play for his hometown team, reportedly as its starting second baseman.

The Angels will be responsible for Espinosa’s 2017 salary, which is expected to be in the range of $5 million once he goes through the arbitration process. He’ll be eligible for free agency next winter.

A third-round pick in the 2008 draft as the latest blue-chip shortstop out of Long Beach State, Espinosa sped through the Nationals farm system and debuted in the majors in September 2010. With Ian Desmond entrenched at shortstop, Espinosa learned to play second base and mostly played on that side of the infield through 2015.

He had a knack for sudden power bursts, but those typically came in between long droughts at the plate in which he struggled to make contact. In seven seasons with the Nationals, he hit .226 with a .302 on-base percentage, 92 homers, 285 RBIs and 834 strikeouts.

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