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Josh Willingham in Pinstripes?

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Recently over at Bronx Baseball Daily, Dan took a look at Josh Willingham. The idea of Willingham in the Bronx intruiges me, so I reached out to the Washington Nationals SB Nation Blog, Federal Baseball, main writer, Edward Chigliak. Here is the interview, along with some extra commentary:

1. Is Josh Willingham available?

If you believe what you read in the papers, yes. A Washington Post writer said that the Nationals came close to trading Willingham two weeks ago, but the other team backed out, and now after signing Hammer to a 1-year/$4.6M dollar deal, ESPN's Buster Olney reported yesterday that Washington had put him back on the market. The only public statement DC GM Mike Rizzo has really made on Willingham was to say at the trading deadline last year that he couldn't understand trading a player who was just 30 (going on 31), productive and under the team's control for two years, but the whispers all along have been that if someone blows them away with an offer he could be had...
 
2. Do you think he has the talent to be a starting outfielder in the AL East?

Josh Willingham is a competent outfielder. That's about as far as I'd go in praise of his defensive skills. Strictly a left fielder. The Nationals tried him out in right last season and it was hard to watch. Can he play in or against a lineup like the Yankees or Red Sox? Considering he's put up a line of .264/.362/.478 and been good for 25-30 doubles, 20-25 HR's and around 70 RBI's in what amounts to four full seasons with the Marlins and Nationals, his bat might be enough to justify it, but I think he's a step below what you'd expect from the outfield talent in the AL East honestly. He'd make a good right-handed DH.

3. What would it take to get Willingham?

Young, "major league-ready" pitching. That's pretty much all Washington's ever looking for in trades. The Washington Post writer I mentioned, Thomas Boswell, who spoke of a near-trade recently, described the Nationals' target as, "a major-league ready pitcher of Jordan Zimmermann quality". Zimmermann was the Nats' no.1 prospect going into '09, so the idea is that Washington's looking to package Willingham with one of the older pitchers in the system, or one of the older outfielders, in return for someone's top pitching prospects. 

4. Propose a trade to the Yankees for the Yankees to get Willingham?

I imagine everyone asks about Phil Hughes first. There's no way Willingham brings back Hughes in my mind. If NY hadn't traded Arodys Vizcaino and Mike Dunn to Atlanta, I'd bet Mr. Rizzo would have taken either of them off the Yanks' hands...so it would basically look like Willingham and a Craig Stammen or J.D. Martin for Hughes and/or the equivalent prospects for Vizcaino and Dunn. Sorry, you guys go through prospects too quick for me to keep up with the Yankees' system.
 
5. Thoughts on the likelihood of a trade?

Willingham said he doesn't think he'll be traded. I think if the Nationals can't get what they want from free agency, he's the most attractive player on the Nats' roster as far as other teams are concerned. But I'd guess his well-documented back issues are always brought up by teams inquiring about him and the Nationals probably want more value in return than other teams are willing to offer. I'd say he's definitely dealt before the end of this season, but Washington might take a chance that he'll increase his value with the same sort of first half (.304/.419/.576) that he had in '09.
Honestly, I would not even consider a trade for Willingham, or any left field option, if it meant giving up Hughes. I doubt Ed seriously thinks Hughes would be traded for Willingham, so I sent him my own trade proposal. Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, and Reegie Corona for Josh Willingham. I'm not sure if I would do it, but based on the criteria mentioned by Ed, I figured it was worth offering. Each player is easily replaceable, anyway. I will update the post when Ed replies to the offer, but thanks again to Ed for answering the questions!

The main problems with Willingham are pretty obvious. The 30-year old is to be paid $4.6 million in 2010. The Yankees may be able to get Johnny Damon for less than that. The former catcher turned left fielder does have some upside to him, but it is mostly in non-important stats like away-batting average and indoor hitting. Willingham hit .300 vs. lefties last season, but only .265 career vs. lefties. Personally, I would not do it. If it was for ONLY Corona and Mitre? Yes. If it was for Nova, Corona, and Mitre? No. Thoughts?

UPDATE: 3:03 PM: Check here to see if the Federal Baseball readers would accept my trade offer.