Josh Willingham Rumors

Josh Willingham Decision Expected Soon

3:43pm: Though the Indians aren't entirely out on Willingham, they haven't made him an official offer, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (Twitter link).

2:35pm: The Twins are the front-runner for Willingham, Rosenthal tweets. The Reds are not involved, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter).

2:23pm: The Indians are out on Willingham, Rosenthal tweets. At this point, we know the Twins and up to two more teams remain in the mix.

1:56pm: The Indians are believed to be in the mix for Willingham, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Rays and Rockies are out.

1:15pm: Agent Matt Sosnick told Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Josh Willingham "has three viable options" available to him. The free agent outfielder and his wife will make a decision within 48 hours, possibly as soon as today.

The Twins are one of Willingham's three options and though Sosnick didn't mention the other clubs by name, it wouldn't be surprising if the Indians and Rockies remain in the mix. Both clubs were linked to Willingham over the weekend. The Rockies and Twins also have interest in free agent Michael Cuddyer

Willingham is a Type A free agent who declined his team's offer of arbitration, but it won't cost a draft pick to sign him under modified free agent compensation rules. Many other clubs, including the Rays, have expressed interest in Willingham this offseason.


Twins Nearing Deal With Josh Willingham

5:25pm: Phil Mackey and Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN hear that Willingham is expected to make his decision before the end of the day on Wednesday. Terms are unknown. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com says (on Twitter) that Willingham became an option for the Twins once they had trouble bridging the money gap with Cuddyer.

4:47pm: The Twins are nearing a deal with free agent outfielder Josh Willingham, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The move would likely mean free agents Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel are moving on from Minnesota and it could facilitate a deal between Cuddyer and the Rockies.

Willingham, a Sosnick Cobbe Sports client, had narrowed his choices down to three teams. The Twins would not have to surrender a draft pick to sign him, but the Athletics would obtain two top selections for him, since they offered arbitration earlier in the offseason.

This post was originally published on December 13th.


Quick Hits: Aoki, Cuddyer, Buerhle, Sherrill, Quentin

Some links to check out as we await tomorrow night's non-tender deadline..

  • As expected, the Yakult Swallows filed posting paperwork on outfielder Norichika Aoki Monday morning in Japan, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com.
  • Free agent Michael Cuddyer's decision will be huge news and could happen soon, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  Morosi adds that the decision will have a big impact on the Twins' and Rockies' plans.
  • Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com spoke with Mark Buerhle who said that he hopes to return to the White Sox in some capacity after his four-year deal with Miami is through.  The veteran also said that the Sox didn't make him an offer after the Marlins put their deal on the table.
  • Free agent left-hander George Sherrill is drawing interest from the Royals, Phillies, Blue Jays, and Mariners, a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  The Rockies were also said to be targeting the veteran last week.
  • Even though the two sides were reportedly talking on Tuesday, the Red Sox aren't discussing a deal for Carlos Quentin with the White Sox, tweets Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.  Earlier today we learned that Quentin has come up in talks with the Blue Jays, though those discussions have apparently cooled.
  • The Indians are in on all "non-[Prince] Fielder" bats, including Josh Willingham, but don't have much financial flexibility, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Tribe is after a right-handed bat and the club has been linked to Derrek Lee, Andruw Jones, and Mike Cameron among others.
  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post (via Twitter) doesn't see catcher Eliezer Alfonzo returning to the Rockies but could see the club going after someone like Jeff Mathis if he is non-tendered.  Mathis, 28, was shipped from the Angels to the Blue Jays on December 3rd for left-hander Brad Mills.
  • Craig Breslow, who was traded to the Diamondbacks along with starter Trevor Cahill on Friday, first heard of the deal via Twitter, not the A's front office, writes Katie Dowd of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • Former Mets General Manager Steve Phillips likes the Astros' hire of Jeff Luhnow as GM and believes that he understands how to operate a small market team, writes Stephen Goff of Examiner.com.


Willingham Market Hinges On Cuddyer

1:36pm: The Rockies are focused on Cuddyer, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Should they lose out on the long-time Twinkie, they'll turn that focus to Willingham.

1:24pm: MLB Network's Jon Heyman adds the Rockies to the list of teams still eyeing Willingham, but doesn't go as far as calling them a "finalist" as Camino did with the Indians and Twins (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Willingham market hinges on Michael Cuddyer, because the Twins view Willingham as their top alternative. Rosenthal also mentions the Rockies as a player for Willingham.

SUNDAY, 11:57am: The Mariners are out of the running for Willingham, tweets Nick Camino of WTAM 1100. The outfielder's choice is down to the Indians and Twins, according to Camino.

SATURDAY, 10:32pm: The Mariners and Indians appear to be the front-runners for free agent outfielder Josh Willingham, reports Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (on Twitter). MLB.com's Jordan Bastian says (on Twitter) that other teams remain in the mix though, including the Indians. Cleveland has not yet made an offer though. The Rockies, Twins, Rays were also in the mix at one point.

Willingham, 32, hit .246/.332/.477 with a career-high 29 home runs in 2011. The right-handed hitter 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.


Rockies Considering Three-Year Offer To Cuddyer

The Rockies' willingness to consider a three-year offer to free agent right fielder Michael Cuddyer makes them a serious suitor, writes Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.  The Rockies freed up $7MM in yesterday's Huston Street trade.  They have mild interest in Cody Ross as a complementary piece and are not pursuing Josh Willingham, writes Renck.

The Twins reportedly have a three-year offer worth $24-25MM on the table for Cuddyer.  GM Terry Ryan told MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger he still thinks they have a chance.  Ryan would like to get something done sooner than later.  Cuddyer's wife just gave birth to twin girls, however, so Cuddyer may be occupied with diaper duty.


Twins, Indians, Rockies Most Likely For Willingham

The Twins, Indians, and Rockies are most likely to sign free agent left fielder Josh Willingham, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  The Indians are interested but have yet to make an offer, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.


Free Agent Arbitration Offer Decisions

37 free agents were offered arbitration in November, but Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Reyes, Heath Bell, Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes, Matt CappsBruce Chen, David DeJesus, Ryan Doumit, Mark Ellis, Frank Francisco, Freddy Garcia, Aaron Harang, Ramon Hernandez, Jose Molina, Jon Rauch, and Mark Buehrle have already reached agreements.  The deadline is tonight at 11pm central time.  For MLBTR's handy chart that can be filtered by team, type, and whether the player was offered and/or accepted, click here.


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. 


AL Central Notes: Cespedes, Royals, Cuddyer

The Tigers, who agreed to sign Ramon Santiago to a two-year deal today, have interest in Coco Crisp. Here are the latest updates from their division, starting with a note on another possible outfield target for Detroit:

  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski will watch Yoenis Cespedes play in the Dominican Republic, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, who suggests this is “very unusual” for Dombrowski (Twitter link). Cespedes isn’t yet a free agent, but he’s in the process of establishing temporary residency in the Dominican and may hit the open market soon.
  • Before the Royals signed Jonathan Broxton, outfielder Jeff Francoeur and manager Ned Yost went hunting with the right-hander in Georgia, according to Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. The outing helped convince Broxton to join the Royals.
  • Twins manager Ron Gardenhire says the team is "making a mad effort" to sign Michael Cuddyer, according to Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500 (on Twitter).
  • Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle hears Josh Willingham may be a fit in Minnesota if the Twins don’t re-sign Cuddyer. Similarly, the Red Sox may have interest if they don’t re-sign David Ortiz, Slusser writes.

Rosenthal On Votto, Alonso, Rangers, Soriano

The Reds’ owners continue engaging in friendly debate with one another about Joey Votto’s future with the team, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Here are the details on the Reds’ first base situation and more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB…

  • Cincinnati CEO Bob Castellini doesn’t want to trade Votto and appears to believe an extension is possible. However, some Reds owners believe the team should explore trades for the 2010 NL MVP. Votto is under contract through 2013.
  • Rival GMs consider Yonder Alonso a one-dimensional player, not someone who could be a centerpiece in a trade for a starting pitcher like James Shields or Gio Gonzalez.
  • The Rangers are considering assistant GM Thad Levine and former Astros GM Tim Purpura for their open farm director position, according to Rosenthal. 
  • Teams are “kicking the tires” on Alfonso Soriano and the Cubs are willing to pick up a substantial chunk of the $54MM remaining on the 35-year-old left fielder's contract. He posted a .244/.289/.469 line with 26 home runs last season and is under contract through 2014.
  • Teams are calling the Rangers about right-hander Koji Uehara, but Texas may hold on to him, since they’re short on left-handed relief and Uehara is effective against left-handed hitters.
  • The A’s won’t attempt to re-sign Josh Willingham, but they’re interested in re-signing another one of their free agent outfielders: Coco Crisp.