The Mariners have signed infielder Danny Espinosa to a major-league contract, as Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports first reported on Sunday. Espinosa, 30, had been designated for assignment by the Angels on July 16 and was released four days later.
The Angels acquired Espinosa from the Nationals last December in an attempt to plug a hole at second base. While he played strong defense for the Angels, he struggled mightily at the plate, hitting .162/.237/.276 with six homers in 254 plate appearances. As it became clear that Espinosa was dealing with more than just an ordinary slump, he yielded playing time at second base to Cliff Pennington and Nick Franklin.
Espinosa might have difficulty finding regular playing time in Seattle, as the Mariners arguably have the best middle-infield duo in the majors in Robinson Cano and Jean Segura. The versatility that he displayed earlier in his career, however, could help him become a flexible bench option for the Mariners. In addition to his 593 career games at second base, Espinosa has played 216 games at shortstop (including a career-high 157 last season in Washington), 16 at third base, and five each at first base and in left field.
If he figures out his swing, Espinosa could provide some imposing power. He has two 20-plus-homer seasons: he hit 21 in 658 plate appearances in 2011, and he hit a career-high 24 in 601 PAs last year.
While the Mariners could theoretically cut back to a 12-man pitching staff, it seems likely that the addition of Espinosa will cause Taylor Motter to be optioned to Triple-A Tacoma. Motter, who was acquired in a trade from the Rays during the offseason, got off to a hot start, posting an .821 OPS with five home runs in April. He has just two homers since then, though, and is now down to a .204/.272/.355 slash line through 232 plate appearances this season.