Leftovers from the general manager meetings

Adam Kilgore
Copyright 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010; 4:11 PM

Before the weekend hits, I wanted to empty out the notebook with a few items leftover from the winter meetings and a few other tidbits. Here goes: >> Second baseman Danny Espinosa has been hitting well in Puerto Rico, playing for Ponce, the team managed by former Nationals third base coach Pat Listach. He's batting .320/.381/.560 (average/on-base/slugging) and this week he hit for the cycle. General Manager Mike Rizzo said he feel fine entering spring training with Espinosa as the projected starter at second base. "If spring training started today, from what I saw in September, I would feel pretty comfortable with Danny," Rizzo said. "Defensively, I'm very comfortable with him making the club out of spring training. He's going to have to make some adjustments offensively. He's in the course of doing that right now. I give him a lot of credit for going out and playing winter ball. He's going to play the whole season of winter ball, which is great for his development. But if we can improve the infield of the ballclub in any way, shape or form, we'll do so." >> I'm not at all stating this as fact, but my opinion based on several conversations is that the Nationals will trade Josh Willingham this offseason. Without Willingham, Michael Morse could receive a greater role in the Nationals outfield. Here's how Rizzo gauged Morse and the chances he could play first base if the Nationals do not sign Adam Dunn: "I would say Morse had a breakthrough season for us this year," Rizzo said. "He played extremely well in the limited time that he played. He did the most of his opportunity, which is a feather in his cap. Again, I haven't thought much about him as a possibility at first base, although he played it competently the few times he played it this year. He brings some value to us because he can play several different positions fairly well. He's a productive guy for us on the right side. I'm not going to discount the fact that he can't play first or he might not play first. As of right now, we're probably looking at other options before we turn to him as our option." >> Yuneksy Maya made two impressive starts in the Dominican winter league, allowing one earned run in 10 innings with 12 strikeouts and three walks. But he's been stuck on two starts for a while because of a left hamstring strain. The injury was a minor setback, and Maya will pitch Sunday. >> The Nationals are very pleased with how their four pitchers -- Sammy Solis, Brad Peacock, Adam Carr and Cole Kimball -- performed in the Arizona Fall League. Peacock pitched as a reliever, but only because teams cannot send more than one starting pitcher. The Nationals chose Solis, their second-round pick, as their starter because he needed more innings than Peacock. In the spring, Peacock will return to work as a starter. Solis's numbers -- he went 1-0 with a 3.80 ERA, 12 strikeouts and seven walks in 23 2/3 innings -- don't pop off the page, but the Nationals were happy with how he threw. Working with pitching coordinator Spin Williams, Solis, a lefty, added a cut fastball to his four-pitch repertoire. He'll probably start this season in Class A Hagerstown and will begin in minor league camp. >> The Tigers were linked strongly to Adam Dunn during the general manager meetings. If they eventually sign Dunn, it would be a good break of sorts for the Nationals. The Tigers have the 19th selection in the 2011 draft, which this year is the first unprotected choice. Since Dunn is a Type A free agent, the Nationals would gain the best possible first-round pick for losing Dunn and a "sandwich" pick in the compensatory round if the Tigers sign him. Under that scenario, the Nationals would have the sixth and 19th pick in the draft. >> The Scottsdale Scorpions, the Arizona Fall League team for which Nationals prospects compete, clinched a spot in the AFL championship game with a 20-12 record. That means you'll be able to watch Bryce Harper in the title game; MLB Network will air the AFL championship Saturday at 3 p.m. Nationals outfield prospect Michael Burgess will start, but Harper will play at some point. Harper, following his typical pattern, exceeded expectations in Arizona. In nine games, Harper hit .343/.410/.649 with one home run and 11 strikeouts in 35 at-bats.

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