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  • Does Torii Hunter's Contract Bode Well For A Josh Willingham Trade?

    Twins best move with Willingham might be to keep him.Torii Hunter had 12 or 13 teams chasing after him?!? And signed for two years and $26M? Then how much must Josh Willingham, who hit twice as many home runs as Hunter last year and makes half as much, be worth?

    I thought of this question on Sunday as I was podcasting with Aaron Gleeman. A quick look at the top free agent outfielders made me even more interested.
    Below are the top five free agent outfielders. Let’s go through them as a general manager who is looking for right-handed power in an outfielder. We’ll bold the ones that fit that description….

    1. Josh Hamilton – Left-handed AND ridiculously expensive
    2. Curtis Granderson – Not available.
    3. BJ Upton – Perfect – If you’re willing to pay 6 years and $90M.
    4. Michael Bourn – Great centerfielder, but no power.
    5. Nick Swisher – Switch-hitter, quite a bit of power who will likely need a four-year deal. (He also hits better as a left-hander.)

    Those are the guys that I thought would make more than Hunter this offseason. Compared to them, Willingham – who hit more home runs than Upton or Swisher – looks like a effective but much more affordable and risk-adverse solution.

    Unfortunately, just below that level are a few names that a general manager could turn to if they miss out on the big names…

    1. Cody Ross – Right-handed and hit 22 home runs last year, albeit in Fenway.
    2. Shane Victorino – No power.
    3. Angel Pagan – Not enough power.
    4. Ichiro Suzuki – Not enough power any more.
    5. Melky Cabrera – Signed.
    6. Ryan Ludwick – Right-handed and hit 26 home runs last year, albeit in Great American Ballpark.
    7. Delmon Young – Right-handed and hit 18 home runs last year in Comerica Park.

    Even though he hit quite a few more home runs in a tougher ballpark, Willingham is not viewed as significantly different than Ross, Ludwick and Young. And all three of those guys will get contracts similar or less than Willingham’s. The Twins took advantage of that perception last offseason when they Twins were able to sign Willingham to his affordable deal.

    Also, Willingham's defense looks pretty bad, though it isn’t terrible according to metrics like UZR, which says he cost the Twins just 8 runs over the average left fielder. Still, that perception could limit National League teams interest.

    The bottom line is that if a GM is looking to add some right-handed pop to his lineup, there are some other options. While they might not be as good, they also aren’t going to cost a blue chip prospect and they aren’t going to break the bank. If Twins fans want to see a big return for Willingham, this offseason probably isn’t the best time to trade him, despite the interest there was in Hunter.

    This article was originally published in blog: Does Torii Hunter's Contract Bode Will For Josh Willingham Trade? started by John Bonnes
    Comments 14 Comments
    1. BBWriterMan's Avatar
      BBWriterMan -
      It feesl like the Twins would be selling high on Willingham, but I agree that they would not get much for him in a trade. At least not anything (a starting pitcher?) of equal value. It's better to hang onto him and deal Span, in my opinion.
    1. CC7's Avatar
      CC7 -
      Sell High
      Willingham to Atlanta for Randall Delgado, Julio Tehrean, and Edwardo Salcedo
    1. twinstalker's Avatar
      twinstalker -
      Gardenhire doesn't understand the value of true platoons, so by dealing JW the Twins could end up with six lefty bats in a row to get mown down by some chump loogy, instead of the four in a row that never see a rhp now after the 5th inning. But they're going to lose anyway. If they're semi-smart and give up on the season, they could actually maybe get some good return for JW.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Well, they claim one reason they did not deal him last year was that they did not want to trade a guy right after signing him. Would now be different?
    1. matthew0211's Avatar
      matthew0211 -
      First of all, unless you're the Marlins and don't give a damn about your fans or your players & their families, you don't trade a player (who seems very happy to be here, by the way) one year into a multi-year free agent contract. You just don't. In the real world, from a human relations standpoint, trading Willingham would send a terrible message.

      Secondly, where in the world are the Twins going to get any right-handed power for the middle of the lineup without Willingham? Their pitching was so bad last year that it hid the fact that their offense really wasn't very good - they were 10th out of 14 AL teams in runs and OPS. There are other positions to deal from, the Twins need to hang on to their one reliable RH power bat.
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I think you might have to consider that Willingham signed his deal with the Twins probably thinking that 2011 was an aberation and that the team he was joining would be competitive. If that's the case, there's every possibility that he would welcome a trade to a team that has a better chance of contending. So even though he doesn't have a no-trade clause, if the Twins truly are concerned about the "message" it would send, they could simply ask Willingham if he'd object to a trade.

      I do think fans are considerably overestimating what a slowfooted OF/DH would fetch in a trade, even one who had such a solid year at the plate. Because of that, and because the Twins would immediately find themselves with yet another gaping hole (RH power hitter) in the middle of their lineup, I don't think Willingham gets traded this offseason. If he gets off to a decent start in 2013, he may bring a better return at the trading deadline when trading him to a contender may even be considered doing right by him.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      This team lost 195 games the last two seasons, every player including Mauer should be on the table if the trade will make the team better long term.

      Yes I understand Mauer has a no trade but that can be waived.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      I doubt if anybody is off the table this off-season as far as trades go. Still, I rather doubt if Willingham will be traded. There is no right handed bat close to the majors to replace Willingham and the only other righthanded power would be Plouffe. Unless it turns out that there is no other way to get enough starting pitching, Willinham won't be traded. Especially, if you assume the Twins believe that they can contend this year.
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      This team lost 195 games the last two seasons, every player including Mauer should be on the table if the trade will make the team better long term.

      Yes I understand Mauer has a no trade but that can be waived.
      Willingham, Mauer, Morneau, Span would all bring nothing in trades. Trade Gardenhire for a decent trainer and the team would improve immeasurably.
    1. Big City's Avatar
      Big City -
      Trade Willingham to the Mariners for Danny Hultzen, Span to the Braves for Randal Delgado, and Morneau to the Red Sox for Allen Webster. We'd then have a pile of money to sign Cody Ross to replace Willingham and a solid SP like Sanchez or Jackson to top off the rotation.
    1. rxbrgr's Avatar
      rxbrgr -
      John - Curtis Granderson is not a free agent this year.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      I'm almost convinced the Twins aren't shopping him. And I'm fully convinced that's a mistake.
    1. Cody Christie's Avatar
      Cody Christie -
      I don't feel like the Twins are going to trade Willingham. His value is probably the highest it has ever been so the Twins should take advantage of this. He might be able to bring back some decent players if a team has a need in the outfield.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      I agree with the comment on Willingham being overvalued. Trade value will be determined after some of the FA outfielders sign. Losers in the signing derby will then be looking for trades to fill the holes. Trades will be the way for the small market teams anyway and most of them have the pitching.
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