Updating 5 Contenders Who Will Covet Josh Willingham in a Trade

Chris Schad@@crishadContributor IIIMay 8, 2012

Updating 5 Contenders Who Will Covet Josh Willingham in a Trade

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    The Minnesota Twins are terrible right now.

    At 8-21, they are the worst team in Major League Baseball with a bullet. When a team does terribly, there is a small cry for teams to trade their best players for big returns.

    The Twins don't have many things that they can use to get such a big return. A lot of the Twins assets could be considered damaged goods or something that couldn't bring back much of anything in the first place.

    That's why if the Twins do want to make a trade to rebuild their farm system quickly, Josh Willingham is one of the most logical pieces to be moved.

    Willingham has been the Twins best hitter this season. He's hit .291 with five home runs, 15 RBI and a .972 OPS.

    While the law of averages suggests that Willingham will cool off (He's never hit above .277 in a full season), he could be the asset the Twins need to get some young players in their system.

    It will cost a lot for someone to pry Willingham away from the Twins as he has two seasons left on his three-year, $21 million contract signed last offseason, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few teams that could use his bat.

Washington Nationals

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    The Washington Nationals are one of the better stories in baseball, but they need some offensive help.

    Coming into Thursday's games, the Nationals were second to last in baseball in runs scored. While the addition of phenom Bryce Harper has helped, they still need help driving in runs.

    Willingham's bat would be a welcome addition to the team he spent two seasons with in 2009 and 2010. Over that two-year span, Willingham put up a solid line of .263 with 40 home runs and 117 RBI.

    The one concern for the Nationals is that Willingham would not have the protection that he's been given batting between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.

    While that protection could eventually develop with the emergence of Harper and the return of Michael Morse, the Nationals still should be weary before making a trade similar to the one that sent Matt Capps to the Twins for Wilson Ramos.

    Regardless, the Nationals would love to replace the injured Jayson Werth with Willingham's production.

Cincinnati Reds

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    The Cincinnati Reds are in the process of trying to chase down the St. Louis Cardinals for control of the National League Central. Their best chance to do that is to play to their strengths.

    The Reds play in Great American Ballpark, which is one of the more hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball. The Reds could use someone that can pull the ball out of the ballpark repeatedly and help them score more runs to try and catch the Cardinals.

    Willingham would also be an upgrade from the current Reds left field platoon of Chris Heisey (hitting .222) and Ryan Ludwick (hitting .185). Seeing Willingham in the Great American Ballpark would give the Reds what they need to help their offense.

San Francisco Giants

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    When you're talking about any offensive player, the San Francisco Giants could desperately use him. The example of this was last season when the Giants traded pitching prospect Zach Wheeler to the New York Mets for Carlos Beltran.

    Beltran came in and immediately became the Giants best offensive player, leading the team in most offensive categories since his arrival toward the end of July. Alas, Beltran left in free agency to join the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Giants find themselves in the same rut.

    Willingham's power could add another element to the Giants' offense and could help them win close games as they battle the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.

Cleveland Indians

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    The Cleveland Indians were struggling on offense, so they decided to give Johnny Damon a try in left field. Damon has rewarded the Indians confidence by hitting .190 in his first six games. While that's a small sample size, I don't think that the Indians can win the American League Central with Damon in left.

    That's where a Josh Willingham trade can help.

    If Willingham can maintain his fast start, it would be a huge boost for the Indians who are chasing another team that could slug their way to the AL Central title in the Detroit Tigers.

    Such a move may be difficult, as the Minnesota Twins are obviously in the same division as the Indians, but if the Twins are out of it enough, they may concede to their rivals.

Boston Red Sox

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    There's always an important rule in baseball: The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are never out of it. At least that's what ESPN would want you to believe...

    But acquiring Willingham would make perfect sense for the Red Sox as they try and get back on track after a bad start to the 2012 season. The Red Sox have been hit hard by injuries and slow starts and currently find themselves at the bottom of the American League East.

    Acquiring Willingham wouldn't help the Red Sox fill their holes in the starting rotation or bullpen, but it gives them another offensive weapon until Jacoby Ellsbury returns from a dislocated shoulder.

    I've mentioned in previous slides that Willingham is a pull hitter and Fenway Park would be a perfect place for him to use that talent. The Green Monster would be loaded with dents from Willingham after his arrival, and the Red Sox could use another bat in their lineup for some high-powered shootouts.

    If the Red Sox want to find a way to save their season, Willingham could be their answer.