After hitting .259/.278/.338 in 2013 and only being able to play second base at an above average ability, the likelihood that Steve Lombardozzi was going to be a part of the Nationals Opening Day roster in 2014 was slim to none. While many fans of the Nationals saw Steve Lombardozzi as a solution the numbers show that he was more part of the problem. Replacing him shouldn't be difficult but it is going to come at a price. Willie Bloomquist just got a two year $6 million contract from the Mariners and Kelly Johnson a $3 million contract from the Yankees. Both could have served as utility men for the Nationals but neither represents much of an upgrade over the cost controlled options of Danny Espinosa or Jeff Kobernus. Of those two Espinosa is the better option as the one thing a utility infielder needs to be able to do is play plus defense at multiple positions. Espinosa has already shown he can do so at second and short and with his range and arm there is no reason to believe he can't do so at third, but there are a lot of questions surrounding Danny Espinosa.
Espinosa in 2013 was putrid with the bat. A lot of it had to do with a rotator cuff, that has still yet to be operated on, and wrist injury and if he is over those then he should return to more of the .715 OPS hitter he was in 2012. As a bench player that is a good OPS as the average pinch hitter in the NL in 2013 had a .622 OPS and per game the average NL team used 1.5 pinch hitters. It is unlikely that the main defense-first utility player would be the guy to get that at bat and a half. Danny Espinosa also has other advantages as Matt Williams has mentioned wanting to be aggressive on the bases. Espinosa has a career stolen base success rate of 73% and could serve as a late inning pinch runner to get the Nationals that one run they need in a close ballgame. Matt Williams sounds like a manager looking to take any advantage with the knowledge that in the long run multiple little advantages will add up to a big advantage. Danny Espinosa could serve as a good utility player but there are still a lot of question marks. The main question comes down to the Nationals willingness to spend money for a bench player and with the going rate seeming to be $3 million a year for players no different than Danny Espinosa it is questionable whether they would want to.Read More