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A’s get Josh Willingham from Nationals for two minor leaguers

Dec 16, 2010, 2:06 PM EDT

Josh Willingham

UPDATE: Buster Olney of ESPN.com says it’s a done deal, pending physical exams.

UPDATE #2: Rosenthal says the minor leaguers are reliever Henry Rodriguez and outfielder Corey Brown. Neither are considered top prospects, but Rodriguez has a high-90s fastball and big-time strikeout totals in the minors. It’s a pretty good haul for Willingham.

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Earlier this week Oakland signed Hideki Matsui to replace Jack Cust as designated hitter and now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the A’s “are in serious discussions to obtain” Josh Willingham from the Nationals for “two minor leaguers.”

Rosenthal writes that Willingham would play primarily left field for the A’s, who would be taking a big hit defensively in order to add his right-handed bat to the lineup.

Willingham batted .268/.389/.459 with 16 homers in 114 games for the Nationals before undergoing knee surgery in mid-August, basically matching his career averages, and is set to earn about $6 million or so in his final season of arbitration eligibility.

Washington has been linked to nearly every free agent first baseman, so the fact that they’re aggressively shopping Willingham is no surprise, but it’s odd that the Nationals apparently have zero interest in simply playing Willingham at first base. He played there some in the minors and is as good offensively as any free agent they’ll be able to sign, but it’s seemingly never be an option.

  1. apbaguy - Dec 16, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    The A’s apparently aren’t feeling to comfortable about Sweeney’s knees.

    • clydeserra - Dec 16, 2010 at 2:40 PM

      or Sweeneys singles.

  2. Detroit Michael - Dec 16, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    Fine move, assuming the minor leaguers aren’t top drawer prospects.

    Willingham ranked 43rd in the majors in situational wins (an offensive rate stat also called WPA/LI) among those with 400+ plate appearances. The guys in his neighborhood often are more expensive players, e.g. Jay Bruce was 42rd and Adrian Beltre was 46th.

    I guess on-base percentage is the new on-base percentage.

  3. Jonny 5 - Dec 16, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    I can’t understand this move. I would have stuck him on 1st for sure. Unless they have a serious first baseman already lined up and plan to spend the money??? He’s bound to hit better this season too.

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