From a four-game sweep to a five-game losing streak, the Minnesota Twins are desperate to find solid traction that will propel them to the top of the AL Central Division.
But, with more downs than ups this season, the Twins should probably start setting the goal now to post a record that will not put them in dead last like they have been in the last three seasons.
With that in mind, the Twins must also deal with the trade deadline coming at the end of July. And because they are not exactly a contending World Series team at this point, the Twins are more than likely ready to sell rather than buy.
And if the Twins were to come to the point of selling off one of their veterans, one possibility may be Josh Willingham.
Willingham is currently in the last year of his 3-year, $21 million contract with the Twins. Upon missing the first couple of months of the season due to a fractured wrist, Willingham has been solid since his return with a .243/.396/.477 slash line and seven home runs in 35 games.
At the end of the season, however, Willingham will become a free agent, and there has not been much talk as to whether he will stay in Minnesota, despite his interest in doing so.
But to have Willingham make it to that point is yet to be seen. If Willingham ends up being traded, it is more than likely going to be an American League team who will pick him up so that he may continue to see playing time at the designated hitting position.
One interested team could be the Seattle Mariners, who would possibly use Willingham for designated hitting more often than for outfield work. Two players on the Seattle roster have more home runs that Willingham (Seager and Zunino), and their designated hitter/first baseman, Corey Hart, is currently on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left hamstring. Currently sitting in third in the West Division, the Mariners could use an extra pop from Willingham in their lineup and fill that DH role.
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Another team that could be of interest in Willingham’s abilities is the San Francisco Giants. Throughout his 11-year career at the Major League level, Willingham has hit .352 including 11 extra-base hits and five home runs at AT&T Park. Currently sitting in first place in the NL West Division, the Giants could really use an extra power bat in the lineup to keep them there and propel them to the postseason. Although this would mean that Willingham would not get designated hitting time as he would if he stayed in the American League, at least he would be with a team that would be contenders for a World Series ring.
If Willingham ends up getting traded by the end of July, then it would of course be a detriment to the Twins’ lineup. Willingham is one of the Twins’ best hitters, and getting rid of him would only push the team back further in trying to rebuild. But if the Twins can get one or two prospects that are absolutely ready to step into Willingham’s position, then the Twins may be fine.
With the way the Twins have been playing, they may not be able to hold onto someone like Willingham for very long. And even though Willingham is 35 years old and notably aging, there is still some interest in him around the league that could eventually take him away.