Was The Deal For Danny Espinosa A Good One For The LA Angels

Oct 1, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa (8) makes a throw to first base against the Miami Marlins in the ninth inning at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 1, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals shortstop Danny Espinosa (8) makes a throw to first base against the Miami Marlins in the ninth inning at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Angels made a deal to bolster their second base position by acquiring Danny Espinosa from the Washington Nationals for minor leaguers Austin Adams and Kyle McGowin.  The deal looks good on paper, but is it the right move.

The LA Angels have been looking this off-season for an everyday left fielder and second baseman.  One of their other major needs was some power from the left side of the plate.  The first move Angels general manager did was acquire outfielder Cameron Maybin form the Detroit Tigers to fill in the hole in left-field and possibly be a lead-off hitter in case they either want to trade Yunel Escobar.

On Saturday the Angels traded two minor league prospects to the Washington Nationals to acquire hometown boy Danny Espinosa. Espinosa is from Orange County from Santa Ana, who was a product of Mater Dei High School and Cal State Long Beach.  Last season Espinosa hit .209 with 24 home runs and 72 runs batted in with nine stolen bases. In his 7-year major league career, all with the Nationals, Espinosa has a career .226 batting average smacking 92 homers and driving in 285 runs.  He also swiped 90 bases while only getting caught 19 times with .302 OBP and a .388 slugging percentage.

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Espinosa’s offensive numbers are respectable, but his one glaring weakness is his strikeouts.  In 2,644 at-bats Espinosa has struck out 834 times which equates out to a strikeout every three at-bats. Conversely Espinosa hits a home run once every 29 at-bats.  So basically Espinosa is a feast or famine hitter who goes hungry the majority of the time.

Espinosa is a switch-hitter with more of his power coming from the left side which is what the Angels have been looking for as well as a an every day second baseman.  Defensively, Espinosa is pretty good with a .989 fielding percentage at second base with 27 errors in 2,427 chances.  That is definitely an upgrade from either Johnny Giavotella and Cliff Pennington for sure.  Espinosa should mesh nicely with defensive wizard Andrelton Simmons at shortstop to form a formidable double-play combination which should benefit Angels pitchers.

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So what did the Angels give up to get him is a question to be looked at.  The Angels traded two mid-level pitching prospects in Austin Adams and Kyle McGowin.  McGowin was drafted in the fifth round of the 2013 draft out of Savannah State University.  His minor league career has been sub-par going 20-30 with a 4.77 ERA striking out 320 batters in 375.2 innings pitched with an opponent’s batting average of.267.  Last season McGowin was 9-14 with a 5.83 ERA splitting the season between AA  Arkansas and AAA Salt Lake City.

Austin Adams on the other hand has been pretty effective posting a 32-26 record with a 3.33 ERA in seven minor league seasons in the Cleveland Indians organization. Adams struck out 458 batters in 443.2 innings pitched with an opponents batting average of .250.  Adams has also pitched parts of three seasons in the majors with the Indians compiling a 2-0 record in 53 games with an ERA of 6.29 with 44 strikeouts in 58.1 innings of work.  Opponents hit for a .299 batting average against Adams and he sported a lofty 1.60 WHIP.

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Both Adams and McGowin have an upside, but are still not prospects the Angels will miss very much. Adams was selected from the Double-A Mobile Bears in Octoberso his stint with the Angels was a short one.  McGowin has shown promise, but has not been able to crack the big league roster.

Finally, looking at the contract of Espinosa, it is favorable for the Angels as he is only going to make between three and five million dollars for 2017 depending on what the team and Espinosa agree upon.  There is a possibility that the Angels and Espinosa would go through arbitration if they cannot agree on a salary.  After next season Espinosa will be eligible for free agency if the Angels do not sign him to an extension.

Overall, the trade looks pretty good for the Angels.  Espinosa is a definite upgrade from what the Angels have had at second base the past couple of season.  He is a much better defender then Johnny G. and Cliff Pennington.  At the plate, despite the strikeouts and low average Espinosa is still an upgrade especially in the power department.

The fact that Espinosa is a hometown boy might help boost his numbers along with the players in the Angels line-up. In addition the fact that the Angels did not give up much to get Espinosa and that he is cost-effective which allows the team to continue to pursue other players that could help the team next season.

Next: Angels still need pitching

Let’s see what else Mr. Eppler has up his sleeve.  I don’t think the Angels are done yet.