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Blue Jays trade infielder Santiago Espinal to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for prospect Chris McElvain

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Photo credit:Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Tyson Shushkewich
22 days ago
The Santiago Espinal era has come to an end in Toronto. The Blue Jays announced earlier this evening that they would be trading the versatile infielder to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Chris McElvain.
Acquired in the summer of 2018 from the Boston Red Sox, Espinal made his big league debut with the Blue Jays during the condensed 2020 season and has been a mainstay on the roster over the past four seasons. Known for his glove and his ability to play multiple infield positions, Espinal split most of his time at second base and third base (2052 1/3 innings) with a bit of shortstop mixed in between, posting respectable numbers on the field.
Espinal’s most prominent season came back in 2022, where a strong first half saw the Dominican product earn a spot at the Midsummer Classic.
He played in a career-high 135 games that season, mostly at second base, and after a slow finish to the year, the right-handed batter amassed a .267/.322/.370 slash line with 51 RBIs and a .692 OPS. The infielder carried over the down campaign into 2023, where Espinal saw a decline in playing time to the likes of Whit Merrifield, Cavan Biggio, and Davis Schneider and more reps off the bench late in games as a defensive replacement.

Blue Jays trade Santiago Espinal to the Reds in exchange for RHP Chris McElvain

With the recent addition of Isiah Kiner-Falefa this past offseason and with other utility-type players already on the roster, Espinal seemed to be losing favour this spring with the Blue Jays coaching staff. He also struggled to put the ball in play (6 for 30 with four strikeouts) through the limited sample size, likely on the verge of losing his spot to another internal candidate given his Minor League options.
Heading to Toronto is unranked pitching prospect Chris McElvain.
An eighth-round draft selection in 2022, the Vanderbilt alum did not pitch in his draft year but split last season between single-A and high-A for the Reds organization. A starter by trade, the right-hander appeared in 23 games (19 starts) and pitched to a combined 3.75 ERA through 96 innings while striking out batters at an 8.2 K/9 clip and posting a 3.8 walk rate.
With Espinal no longer on the Blue Jays, there is an increased likelihood that Ernie Clement will make the Opening Day roster. With a 40-man roster spot also cleared out with the trade, the Blue Jays also appear poised to add a non-roster invitee or a prospect to the active roster, with Daniel Vogelbach the leading candidate with just over a week left to go before Opening Day.

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