WASHINGTON (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels acquired Danny Espinosa from the Washington Nationals on Saturday night, picking up their new starting second baseman in a trade for two minor league pitchers.
The Angels sent right-handers Austin Adams and Kyle McGowin to the Nationals for Espinosa, who presumably lost his starting job in Washington when the team obtained outfielder Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
Washington traded three top pitching prospects to Chicago for Eaton, with the intention of shifting NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Trea Turner from center field back to shortstop, his natural position.
The 29-year-old Espinosa hit .209 with a career-high 24 home runs and 72 RBIs as Washington’s regular shortstop last season, helping the team win the NL East. He didn’t play second base in 2016, but has played there extensively in the past.
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In seven major league seasons, all with the Nationals, the switch-hitter has batted .226 with 92 homers and 285 RBIs.
The trade is a homecoming for Espinosa, born and raised a few miles from Angel Stadium in Santa Ana. He grew up attending games in Anaheim with his father, a longtime Angels season ticket holder.
Espinosa played at high school powerhouse Mater Dei and starred at Long Beach State before Washington drafted him in 2008.
Espinosa is expected to provide an upgrade at second base with some much-needed power from the left side of the plate. Los Angeles has received minimal production at the position since parting ways with longtime starter Howie Kendrick two seasons ago.
Los Angeles already has a two-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop in Andrelton Simmons, though his career OPS is just .671.
Espinosa moved from second base to shortstop last offseason after the Nationals signed Daniel Murphy. The free-swinging Espinosa is considered a better fielder than hitter and has particularly struggled in the postseason, batting .091 in three playoff series.
In the 2016 playoffs, Espinosa struck out eight times in 18 plate appearances. His abilities with the glove will fit in with the Angels’ plan to build a superior defensive team with a core including the gifted Simmons and stellar defensive outfielders Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun.
McGowin was ranked as the Angels’ 20th-best prospect by MLB.com, the Nationals said, although Los Angeles is thought to have one of the worst prospect pools in baseball. He started 27 games in Double-A and Triple-A in 2016, posting a 5.83 ERA.
Adams is a reliever who has a 3.75 ERA in 166 minor league appearances.