Trade Candidate: Josh Willingham
In 2012, Willingham made Ryan look wise. "Hammer" put up career highs in most statistical categories. He hit .260/.366/.524 (.890) with 30 doubles, 35 home runs and 110 RBI. He won his first Silver Slugger Award.
Unfortunately, his age started to show in 2013. He played in 111 games and hit just .208/.342/.368 (.709) with 20 doubles and 14 home runs. This year things have been even worse for the now 35 year old player. Just a handful of games into the season, he was hit on the wrist with a pitch and missed over six weeks. In his return, he has hit .212/.358/.412 (.780) in 53 games with five doubles and nine home runs.
WHY TRADE HIM
Willingham becomes a free agent five days after the completion of the World Series. There is no reason to sign him (or any player at his age) to an extension. If they can acquire even a Grade C type of prospect for him, they should do so as they continue to add potential pieces for the future. Something is better than nothing, which is what they would receive for him if he leaves via free agency at the end of the season.
WHY KEEP HIM
I've got nothing. Anyone? He can be a solid right-handed bat with power. He hit the game-winning home run last week. That's what he can do. That's also the selling point for why to trade him, hoping he can show that kind of power over the final two months.
WHO NEEDS HIM
Cleveland and Cincinnati were a couple teams reportedly interested in Willingham when he was a free agent. Seattle has been mentioned as a possible destination for some time as they are looking for offense. Again, those teams would be banking on the possibility of him having a strong final two months. I don't think teams would be willing to give up anything resembling a top prospect for two months of Hammer, but I think he could bring a C and a C- prospect. If so, jump on it!
Josh Willingham came to the Twins in 2012 and put up remarkable, career-best numbers for the Twins. That offseason likely was the time to trade him, but it's understandable that they didn't as well. He's a good character guy who has helped out a couple of the Twins other right-handed, young players the last two years on and off the field. Unfortunately, he got hurt in 2013 and struggled, and was hurt again this year. At 35, and really limited defensively, the Twins won't be able to get much return for him. Hopefully they can put him into a good situation on a winning team and play a role in which he can succeed.
I believe the odds of Willingham being traded in July are quite high, but certainly in August. I'd put the odds at about 70% by the end of July and maybe 85% by the end of August.
What should the Twins do with Josh Willingham? Sign him to a one-year extension? (Just kidding!) Let him play out his contract and see what happens? Trade him? What do you think?