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Yankees said to be eyeing Twins outfielder Josh Willingham

Jul 27, 2014, 1:07 PM EDT

josh willingham getty Getty Images

Jon Heyman of has the scoop …

The Yankees, perhaps as concerned about their offensive issues as their rotation, are looking at outfielder Josh Willingham and some other bats.

The Yankees may actually prefer Willingham to Marlon Byrd or Alex Rios, perhaps partly because of Willingham’s reasonable $7 million salary and status as a free agent after the season.

Rios is getting a $12 million salary this year from the Rangers and carries a $14 million club option (or a $2 million buyout) for 2015.

Byrd is making an $8 million salary this season from the Phillies and is owed another $8 million salary in 2015. The 36-year-old corner outfielder also has an $8 million vesting option for the 2016 campaign.

Willingham, 35, is batting .215/.357/.420 with 10 home runs and 29 RBI through 56 games this season.

The Yankees want to upgrade over right fielder Ichiro Suzuki, who has been forced into the lineup.

  1. historiophiliac - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    Man, do the Yankees have a type or what?

    • ezthinking - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:18 PM


    • genericcommenter - Jul 27, 2014 at 2:38 PM

      Gets on base, decent power, plays a position? Isn’t that just about every modern team’s type?

      • Bryz - Jul 27, 2014 at 8:09 PM

        He’s also old.

      • genericcommenter - Jul 27, 2014 at 10:25 PM

        Hey, he’s not even 2 months older than I am!
        (Yeah, he’s old)

        But… he’s pretty young for them. He’s younger than Ichiro or Soriano.. at least.

  2. twinfan24 - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:37 PM

    Get it done.

    • proudlycanadian - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:53 PM

      Agreed. Please do it.

  3. Eutaw's Finest - Jul 27, 2014 at 1:40 PM

    Wait- offensive upgrade at .215? And since when do the Yankees care at all about financial implications/contract size?

    • genericcommenter - Jul 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM

      That guy hitting .215 actually WOULD be an offensive upgrade compared to what they have been trotting out there. .777 OPS…

      It looks like he’s only played 35 games in RF, and it was awhile ago, but I assume that’s what they are eyeing him for.

      Yankees RFs? Soriano (.611 OPS) started 23 games there. Ichiro just had his first XBH in forever- He’s a defensive replacement 4th or 5th OFer at this point- maybe he could start on a very bad team- his OPS .647- started 54 games in RF. Beltran started 23 games there, but can’t play the field. He’s been terrible at the plate, too.

      That .215 hitter would be an offensive upgrade over everyone who has played RF for the Yankees this year.

      • sometogethernow - Jul 27, 2014 at 5:24 PM

        The Twins actually shifted their outfield alignment to accommodate Willingham playing in LF when he joined the team, because that apparently was the only spot where he was comfortable. They ended up with a less-than-ideal arrangement with Revere’s noodle arm in right for much of that year in order to keep Willingham in left. Maybe Willingham can’t be so choosy at this point and he’d go to RF for the good of a team that acquires him, but since he’s no great shakes in the field the Yankees might be better off not making him any less comfortable, and shifting the more versatile Gardner instead.

      • Cris E - Jul 28, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        What sometogethernow said, plus he doesn’t like to DH either. That’s a problem because he’s been bad enough out there to the point where the MN faithful were remembering Delmon wistfully…

      • genericcommenter - Jul 28, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        Wow. That IS bad.

  4. irishlad19 - Jul 27, 2014 at 2:36 PM

    Seeking a 35 yr old hitting .214 as an upgrade?
    The Yankees must be desperate!

    • lazlosother - Jul 27, 2014 at 3:00 PM

      Well, they’re 3 games back. The rotation is a dumpster fire. The infield is old, injured and leaks like a sieve. Ichiro is the starting right fielder. I would say yes, they are desperate.

      On the bright side the AL East is a mess, and they are still in it. I don’t think Willingham will help but if he doesn’t cost anything why not give it a go?

    • genericcommenter - Jul 27, 2014 at 10:24 PM

      Well, except (as I already thoroughly noted) by every objective measure he is an offensive upgrade.

  5. pisano - Jul 27, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    They have enough .215 hitters. Pass!

  6. proudlycanadian - Jul 27, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    If only Vernon Wells was in playing shape and was willing to pay the extra taxes he would have to pay in New York. Alas, Vernon seems to be happy at home in Arlington collecting the last of the money on his contract from the Angels

  7. Bryz - Jul 27, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    I love the comments about Willingham only being a .215 hitter.

    Never mind that he draws tons of walks and hits for power. Let’s just focus on the batting average.

  8. byjiminy - Jul 27, 2014 at 8:17 PM

    I can’t believe all the comments on his batting average! This is 2014!

    Which do you think is more important, batting average or on base percentage? Most — actually every — statistical analysis says OBP is more important.

    Do you know how many Yankees have a higher on-base percentage than Willingham?


    Francisco Cervelli, and his 67 at-bats, is the only Yankee to get on base more effectively than Willingham.

    And in case you think that getting on base is some wimpy stat that leaves out power, guess how many Yankees are out-slugging Willingham?

    Three: Cervelli (by one point)…Chase Headley (in 23 at bats)…and Zelous Wheeler, whoever that is (29 at bats).

    In OPS, the stat that correlates best with run production, Willingham is also better than any Yankee except Cervelli and Headley — both of whose stats are meaningless because of small sample size.

    So yes, Willingham would be an upgrade.

    • Reflex - Jul 28, 2014 at 3:48 AM

      Since it is 2014 I’ll go 2014 on you. Willingham has amassed 1.0 bWAR so far this year. Ichiro has accumulated 0.9 bWAR. Is Willingham an upgrade? Sure. But it is basically negligible and I’d rather have Ichiro in the field.

  9. irishlad19 - Jul 27, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    That analysis says a lot about the Yankees, yet they are only 3 games back in the AL East.
    If they make the playoffs, what’s the chances of them winning even a game in playoff competition?

    • miguelcairo - Jul 28, 2014 at 10:59 AM

      Once October hits, all bets go out the window. Especially with the 2nd wild card spot.

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