Royals Acquire Josh Willingham

The Royals have acquired Josh Willingham from the Twins, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter). The Twins will receive right-hander Jason Adam, per Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link).

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins

Willingham was claimed by Kansas City off revocable waivers, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The veteran outfielder is owed $1.836MM for the last 48 days of the season, Berardino further tweets.

The right-handed hitter, 35, is set to reach free agency following the season and will therefore be a pure rental for the Royals. He has posted a .210/.345/.402 slash with 12 home runs through 278 plate appearances on the season after spending time on the DL early on. His production has not matched up to his high-level numbers over 2006-12 (.847 OPS), but they are a step up over a disappointing 2013 campaign.

Willingham brings some much-needed pop to a Royals lineup that has struggled to score runs at times. He is expected to see many of his plate appearances out of the designated hitter spot, per a tweet from Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, sharing time with the lefty-swinging Raul Ibanez. Of course, Willingham is also capable of playing the corner outfield, though he has historically been regarded as a well-below-average performer on the field.

The return for Willingham is not insignificant, which is a fair achievement for Minnesota given that the pending free agent was claimed (leaving the Twins without leverage to deal with multiple trade partners). Adam, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2010. He has scuffled somewhat in the upper minors as a starter (5.13 ERA in 242 1/3 Double-A innings), but has had some success at Triple-A this year in a relief role (2.35 ERA over 15 1/3 frames). Baseball America rated him Kansas City’s 9th-best prospect coming  into the year, saying he has a solid heater and average slider but will need to develop a go-to third offering (change or curve) in order to succeed against lefties at the next level. MLB.com also rated him in the ninth slot among KC prospects entering the year, but dropped him to 16th in its mid-season update. Ultimately, Adam represents a controllable depth piece for a Minnesota club that already picked up young starter Tommy Milone earlier this summer.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


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26 Comments on "Royals Acquire Josh Willingham"


Dynasty22
1 year 16 days ago

Should have traded him 2 seasons ago. At least they got something for him.

Dale Schaeffer
1 year 16 days ago

Great pick up for the Royals! This is the OF bat they needed down the stretch. Willingham may not hit for avg, but his OBP is great and when he makes contact he still can rake.

Snoochies8
1 year 16 days ago

And they just HAD to get him right before the Royals series with the A’s (he kills the A’s)

mlbaustin
1 year 16 days ago

Only slightly annoying :/

twins33
1 year 16 days ago

The key words in there are definitely “when he makes contact.” Hasn’t done that much.

.168/.286/.342 since June 11th.

MoCrash
1 year 16 days ago

Willingham has had respectable splits this season against LHP, so fills a need for the Royals.

108 stitches
1 year 15 days ago

.343 is a respectable OBP, above average in this offensive climate but great?

D.j. Wilson
1 year 16 days ago

I wonder if there’s a chance Minnesota will call up Byron Buxton in September

ian
1 year 16 days ago

Nope, he’s been hurt most of the year and still rehabbing/returning to form in A+ ball.

twins33
1 year 16 days ago

As Ian said, no. This is a lost season for Buxton due to constant injuries. Hicks might be a September call up if he keeps hitting.

sgtschmidt11
1 year 15 days ago

Not quite a lost season, he just got promoted to AA. Lost half-season though for sure.

twins33
1 year 15 days ago

It’s a lost season in the way I’m thinking. He was supposed to START at AA in April. He’s just now getting there. It’s mid-August..the season is almost over.

If he played well in AA from April on, he likely would have been up with the Twins after the all star game. All of that has been erased. He’s hardly played and he hardly has any time left to play (will likely go to AFL though). So to me, it’s a lost season.

D.j. Wilson
1 year 16 days ago

I just saw Willingham yesterday in Oakland! As a matter of fact, he hit a bomb off Gregerson. He’s still got plenty of pop and draws a ton of walks, just not a high average hitter but KC has enough of those that they’ll be okay

twins33
1 year 16 days ago

Loved the Hammer signing when it happened. Injuries hurt him badly since he tore his knee in 2013. His bat speed went in the dumps after that and he’s never been the same.

Wish him well. Surprised the Twins got a name right away rather than a PTBNL. It needed to happen though.

AmericanMovieFan
1 year 16 days ago

If I’m the Royals, I sign him to an extension: 2 years/$20MM and be done with it until 2017.

TheRealRyan
1 year 16 days ago

I would imagine they could sign him for a lot less than that if they want to keep him after this season. He signed for a 3/$21MM three years ago while coming off a far better season and stretch. I would think something like 2/$8MM would get it done if they wanted him for multiple years or maybe a 1/$5 with a $5MM option for year two. Without looking back at recent no D vet signings, this might even be on the higher side.

vtadave
1 year 16 days ago

Ruben Amaro, is that you?

docmilo5
1 year 16 days ago

Can Willingham play 1st better than Butler?

Melvin Mendoza, Jr.
1 year 15 days ago

Not sure, but Butler is an absolute butcher at 1st. If I recall correctly, Willingham got a few reps in at 1B when he was a catcher way back in the day.

Lefty_Orioles_Fan
Lefty_Orioles_Fan
1 year 16 days ago

I was going to say this is an odd trade, but I forgot Hosmer is hurt.
Still Willingham is a DH, Butler is a DH typically, but since Hosmer is hurt….
Willingham was raking, when first signed by the Twins. Maybe, he will figure it out again. And the Royals will live happily every with all these cooks in the kitchen.

Mike1L
1 year 16 days ago

interesting. if the Twins could sell Willingham for a decent prospect, you wonder what the asking price on Marlon Byrd was.

Christopher Velez
1 year 16 days ago

If one believes the rumor mill, the price the Phils were asking from the Yankees was Aaron Judge. You’ve got to think the shopping list starts with someone like Hunter Dozier for Byrd.

Phillyfan425
1 year 16 days ago

I know the asking price for Byrd (or at least the rumor) was Aaron Judge from the Yankees. Probably fair if a rental Willingham got the Twins a more advanced, lower rated guy like Jason Adams.

Then again, the rumor out of Philly was that Seattle was only offering Luiz Gohara and Tyler Pike for Byrd (the report said 2 lower level prospects with 6+ ERA – looking at some quick reports, those 2 fit the bill pretty well).

bigbadjohnny
1 year 16 days ago

good move by the Royals

haplito
1 year 16 days ago

Wish they would’ve done it in 2012, but great flip by the Twins. And nice for Willingham that he gets to go to a competitive team.

haplito
1 year 15 days ago

You gotta hand it to Terry Ryan: Very quietly, he’s pulled off some pretty favorable trades for marginal MLB talent over the past couple of years.

Now if he’d just get a pitching coach who can coach pitching, and a skipper who’ll field players based on talent and probability of success rather than their stoic love of walleye fishing… I’m terrified of what Gardenhire and Anderson’ll do to ruin this crop of talent we have coming through the minors.