Twins outfielder Josh Willingham won AL Player of the Week honors on Monday. He hit .455 with three home runs and, after Monday’s game against the Yankees, is hitting .389/.476/.778 overall. His one hit in the game continued a season-long 10-game hitting streak.
A free agent after hitting .246/.332/.477 with 29 home runs for the A’s last season, Willingham wasn’t given much respect by contenders last winter and wound up with a Twins team that had lost 99 games. A career .263/.363/.480 hitter despite never playing in a good hitter’s park (his career road slugging percentage is .492), he seemingly did not attract much interest from teams such as the Red Sox or Braves, who could have used him.
The Twins gave the 33-year-old a three-year, $21 million contract, but that in and of itself is ludicrous. What is a rebuilding team like the Twins doing giving a 33-year-old player without speed a contract that is going to keep him tied up through his 35th year? Sure, maybe that’s what it took to win his services, but no one should have been offering that many years. If the Twins upset the market with a more generous offer, well, congratulations, guys. You did both the player and your team a disservice.
I suppose Willingham was happy to take the security. After a career of one-year deals, of getting no respect and literal bad breaks, taking three years from anyone must have been hard to resist. He was drafted by the Marlins, who never could decide if he was an outfielder, catcher or third baseman. Once his bat got their attention in spite of his lack of position, his first season was almost wholly destroyed by a stress fracture of his elbow. Between his slow path to the majors and the injury, he didn’t get to play regularly until he was 27. Now it’s almost over. He got a good deal, but he’ll never see the postseason as a result.
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