Rays Making Serious Run At Josh Willingham

3:04pm: The Rays are making a serious run at Willingham, tweets Crasnick.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports adds that while the Rays are not close on Willingham, they're one of three to four finalists.

2:21pm: Nine teams have called on free agent outfielder Josh Willingham, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, including the Twins, Red Sox, Indians, and Reds.  The Pirates have also been linked to him.  Willingham is something of a backup plan for the Red Sox and Twins, suggests Crasnick, as those teams are trying to re-sign David Ortiz and Michael Cuddyer, respectively.  ESPN 1500's Phil Mackey tweets that nothing is currently brewing with the Twins and Willingham.  The Indians' interest has been mild, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.  The Reds' interest in Willingham is "simmering on the back burner, if that," GM Walt Jocketty told reporters including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.

Willingham, 32, hit a career-best 29 home runs for the Athletics in 2011.  A right-handed hitter, Willingham compiled a .246/.332/.477 batting line in 563 plate appearances.  He tallied 829 1/3 innings in left field, and also has experience in right field in 2009.  First base and designated hitter could be options as well.  Willingham's agent Matt Sosnick guessed in October that his client would sign a three-year deal. 

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