While Espinosa — like any player who signs a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training — will need to have an impressive spring in order to earn a spot on the big-league roster, he seems to have a better opportunity than your typical non-roster invitee. Feinsand tweeted that he’ll compete for the Yankees’ second base job, and since New York has a significant lack of experience at both second and third base, he figures to make a strong push for a utility job even if he doesn’t win the starting spot. Ronald Torreyes, who has 512 big-league plate appearances, is the only infielder currently in the competition for those spots with more than 100 PAs at the major-league level, as rookies Miguel Andujar, Tyler Wade, and Gleyber Torres are the others that figure into the mix at this point.
Espinosa, 30, is just one season removed from a very solid 2016 campaign during which he hit 24 homers and posted eight defensive runs saved in 157 games at shortstop for the Nationals. He had a disaster of a 2017 season, though, getting released by three different teams — the Angels, Mariners, and Rays. Through 93 games between the three clubs, he posted a .173/.245/.278 slash line with just six homers in 295 plate appearances. Despite his impressive defensive work as a shortstop the year prior, Espinosa played 78 games at second base compared to just four at short in 2017, posting -1 defensive run saved at second.
While he’s primarily been confined to the middle infield over the past couple seasons, Espinosa has an extensive history as a utility player, having seen action at every infield position in addition to five games in left field over the course of his eight-year major-league career. With the Yankees likely to dedicate at least five big-league roster spots to outfielders in 2018 — Jacoby Ellsbury, Clint Frazier, and Jabari Blash will all push for a spot behind Brett Gardner, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks — Espinosa’s value as a guy who can fill in all across the infield could help him to earn a spot on New York’s Opening Day roster.