I know that there's a pall hanging over us all after the untimely demise of the amazing Masahiro Tanaka, but even if you're an inconsolable wreck the beat goes on. The Yankees are still in the playoff hunt and Brian Cashman and his army of trade ninjas are looking to improve this team as best they can. While the pitching rotation is by no means in great shape, the team's offense is clearly the Yankees biggest weakness. Since the Yankees don't have the necessary pieces to get Giancarlo Stanton, they'll likely be stuck looking for some veteran help for the lineup. One gentleman who fits the bill is Josh Willingham, left fielder and occasionally designated hitter of the non-playoff contending Minnesota Twins.
Willingham is, and has always been a bat. He's the type of player that provides literally no other benefit other than his ability to be a productive hitter. His career high is eight stolen bases and he has more often that not been a detriment to his team in the outfield per defensive metrics. I'm sure that assessment is probably not thrilling to Yankee fans who have had to endure Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano thus far in 2014, but the important distinction is that Willingham has still shown to be valuable. He's sporting a solid 117 wRC+ in 2014 (123 career), which would slot him in as the Yankees' third best hitting regular immediately. He's kind of an Adam Dunn-type, though, as he's hitting .212 with 17.1% BB and a 26.6 % K ratios. So while undeniably useful, he doesn't have universal appeal at the dish.
He's also not an incredibly durable sort, never having played 150 games in his entire career. He seems to have recovered from a wrist injury that sent him to the disabled list earlier in the season, but his health could be a potential concern. At 35 years old he's no kid, but young enough that there shouldn't be too much concern about falling off the face of the Earth in the second half. He's in the last of a three-year deal with the Twins, and while it was assumed in past years that he was to be a trade chip, it seems this will be the likely season that he actually does get dealt.
As always, the key is the price. Willingham has the kind of profile that suggests both immediate upgrade while also not requiring a blue-chip prospect. But there's likely to be plenty of suitors for Willingham's services, so the Twins won't have to accept Austin Romine and a book of coupons and just be happy with it. My inclination is that a solid prospect or two should be sufficient for the team looking to nab the righty slugger.
He's certainly a fit for the Yankees, who can't keep trotting out Ichiro Suzuki everyday both due to his age and the fact that he is below-average offensive producer, particularly for a corner outfielder. So what say you, denizens of Pinstripe Alley? Are you willing to bring aboard Josh Willingham and if so, what is the cost you would accept?