Free Agent Stock Watch: Josh Willingham

Left fielder Josh Willingham has established career-highs in home runs and RBIs this year, with 28 and 94 respectively and three games remain on the schedule.  On the other hand, a slipping batting average and walk rate have his OBP at a career-worst .335, and his defense doesn't come highly regarded.

Willingham

Many teams seeking power this offseason will start with home runs, and among free agents only Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and David Ortiz have more than Willingham, with Carlos Pena even at 28.  Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Beltran are at 25 and 22 respectively, and Michael Cuddyer would be at the bottom end of that range had he not missed time due to injuries.  Pujols and Fielder come with price tags only a handful of teams can consider, while Ortiz requires a DH job.

Ramirez, Beltran, Cuddyer, Pena, and Willingham form the next tier of free agent hitters.  The first three are probably looking at three-year deals paying $10MM or more per year.  Pena and Willingham may have to settle for two-year deals.  Willingham, in particular, probably will receive less than $10MM per year.  I'm thinking something in the two-year, $16MM range.

Pena comes with the wrinkle of a perenially ugly batting average.  With Willingham, the warts are his defense, durability, potential Type A status, and this year's OBP drop.  Maybe next year his walk rate comes back up a bit, and you're comfortable penciling him in for 130 games instead of 155.  The Type A issue could go away too if the A's don't offer arbitration.  Or perhaps Willingham will never hit the market, if the team offers and he accepts.  As we learned yesterday from Susan Slusser, the Athletics' spending decisions are on hold until they hear about their stadium situation.  Agent Matt Sosnick said, "Josh and I both made it clear he'd like to stay, but at this point, I'm pretty sure he'll test the free-agent market."    

Losing a draft pick for Willingham would sting, depending on what team signs him.  A team like the Indians, with the first unprotected pick at #16, probably wouldn't want to make the sacrifice.  The Dodgers and Giants also project to pick in the top 20.  Willingham should still have a range of suitors, with the White Sox, Twins, and Reds also among the teams with potential left field openings.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


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18 Comments on "Free Agent Stock Watch: Josh Willingham"


3 years 10 months ago

How could the Reds use him (Willingham)?
Also, I am surprised that no one has really talked about this, but the Twins are in danger of losing a 100 games this year. All I can say to that is wow, never would have guessed that even with all the injuries.

3 years 10 months ago

LF, if Alonso can’t hack it defensively.  Willingham would be the righty power bat the Reds need between Votto and Bruce.

corey23
3 years 10 months ago

offer arb billy, kthx

johnsilver
3 years 10 months ago

A team not losing a 1st rounder would not get penalized very bad offering Hammer 2/16-20m contract and keep him healthy (somewhat) at a place like Wrigley, this guy could really shine.

A better option than people like Ramirez and Cuddyer.

3 years 10 months ago

If it wasn’t for some incredibly over priced, broken down garbage they have out there in left, i would love the mets to get willingham

Taskmaster75
3 years 10 months ago

 It’s not Jason Bay’s fault that Minaya offered him that contract. I don’t know exactly why he has regressed other than the fact that he was injured for quite a while, but if it’s only that reason, then there is still the possibility he can go back to his previous career levels (Although the park he’s in doesn’t help)

johnsilver
3 years 10 months ago

People love to get onto the Red Sox medical staff for players they might have missed injuries with, but bay is one they hit the nail right on the head with when he failed the physical in 7/209 and the 4 year offer both sides had agreed to was pulled then and a heavy incentive laden deal based on games played was all that Boston offered over the winter when Minaya rode to the rescue with that 4/66 deal.

windycitywarrior
3 years 10 months ago

yea but wasnt some of his time missed due to a concussion? no one could have predicted that.

bigpat
3 years 10 months ago

I could see him staying in Oakland, but there will be some interest in him around the league. OBP fell off some, but it could be back up, and Oakland should be very excited to have finally found a player who can hit for power in their ballpark. Defense is bad though but they shouldn’t DH him, just deal with it and put good fielders in the other OF spots. 

jeffmcduffie
3 years 10 months ago

Oakland had good fielders in the other spots.  Crisp and DeJesus. 

3 years 10 months ago

Both are Free Agents.

Most likely Chris Carter would get a shot at 1B and if he makes it then Brandon Allen would be in RF. CF is pretty much up for grabs too by either a FA they bring in or a rookie like Michael Taylor or Michael Choice who both would be defensive liabilities.

bigpat
3 years 10 months ago

They have them for three more games, each of them are pending free agents. They also have Sweeney who can field but he seems to fell out of favor with the team. They should bring back one of Crisp or DeJesus.

3 years 10 months ago

Most likely Crisp comes back as he likes playing in Oakland and plays CF.
Sweeney can field, but his bat is not very useful.

corey23
3 years 10 months ago

sweeney has bad knees, that is why he wasn’t getting a lot of playing time.  he gets a lot of hits, but not a lot of power, and unfortunately for him we have choice, taylor, crisp (maybe) carter, green, and willingham (hopefully)

so sweeney is the odd man out.

3 years 10 months ago

Forgot about Green’s transition to CF. He would be an interesting option in CF next year, but I still think bringing back Coco on a 1 year deal is the best for the short term.

corey23
3 years 10 months ago

I agree, he can hit for some power, steals bases, is a great OF, seems to like playing for the a’s.  I’d like to see him, willingham and taylor out there with carter at first.  Allen is good but he sure has returned to his old self after a hot start.  they need to just bring up taylor and carter, its not like we’re going to win the west without them so might as well let them get some time.

corey23
3 years 10 months ago

carter and taylor both in the starting lineup tonight, that’s what i’m talkin about

camerondatzker
3 years 10 months ago

The Giants need to get Josh Willingham as he would add fire power to their offense. If The Giants can sign Willingham they could address the Center Field problem with Coco Crisp.