The Angels sent right-handers Austin Adams and Kyle McGowin to the Nationals for Espinosa, who presumably lost his starting job when Washington obtained outfielder Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday.
Washington traded three top pitching prospects to Chicago for Eaton, with the intention of shifting NL Rookie of the Year runner-up Trea Turner from center field back to his natural position at shortstop.
The 29-year-old Espinosa hit .209 with a career-high 24 home runs and 72 RBI as Washington’s starting shortstop last season, helping the team win the NL East. In seven major league seasons, all with the Nationals, the switch-hitter has batted .226 with 92 homers and 285 RBI.
Los Angeles has a two-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop in Andrelton Simmons, though his career OPS is just .671. Espinosa, however, could fill a void at second base for the Angels, providing an upgrade with some much-needed power from the left side of the plate.
Espinosa was previously Washington’s second baseman but moved to shortstop after the club signed Daniel Murphy last offseason. Espinosa is considered a better fielder than hitter and has particularly struggled in the postseason, batting .091 in three playoff series.
In the 2016 playoffs, Espinosa struck out eight times in 18 plate appearances.
McGowin was ranked as the Angels’ 20th-best prospect by MLB.com, the Nationals said. He started 27 games in Double-A and Triple-A in 2016, posting a 5.83 ERA.
Adams is a reliever who has a 3.75 ERA in 166 minor league appearances.