Jim Mone/Associated Press
Seattle Mariners Get: LF Josh Willingham
Minnesota Twins Get: SP Tyler Pike, RF Gabriel Guerrero
Going into action on Monday, the Seattle Mariners sat in third place in the American League West, 7.0 games behind the Oakland A’s, who just got a whole lot better following the July 4 acquisitions of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs.
Now, while the pitching staff has been on point all season, Lloyd McClendon’s offense simply isn’t getting the job done, ranking 15th in the AL in OPS, ninth in runs scored and 14th in walks. And a large part of the reasons why the unit has performed so poorly is that the outfield doesn’t have enough punch.
That makes a trade for Minnesota Twins left fielder Josh Willingham an avenue general manager Jack Zduriencik should pursue. After all, if the Twins “aren’t contending later this month they’ll make” him available in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
Willingham, who was on the disabled list for 41 games after breaking the pisiform bone in his left wrist on a Justin Masterson heater, is slashing out at .224/.378/.448 with eight home runs and 24 RBI in only 134 at-bats.
Overlooking the batting average, he brings a lot to the table for the Mariners, including a .154 IsoD (difference between batting average and on-base percentage) and a .224 IsoP (difference between batting average and slugging percentage). An improvement in those metrics would surely go a long way toward improving their performance at the plate.
Now, in return for Willingham, the Twins would receive Double-A left-hander Tyler Pike and outfielder Gabriel Guerrero.
Pike is a high-ceiling guy that struggled a bit at High-A (2-4, 5.72 ERA, 1.663 WHIP) before getting promoted to Jackson. Since his arrival there, he has only given up seven hits in 12.1 innings pitched, but he has also walked 11 batters.
His control issues shouldn’t dissuade the Twins from acquiring him, though. According to MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo, Pike has “a combination of a feel for three pitches, deception and athleticism” which gives him “the chance to be a solid big league starter.”
Guerrero is an intriguing prospect for two reasons.
First, he can hit for both power and average, compiling a .301/.344/.439 slash line at High-A with nine home runs, 17 doubles and 60 RBI in 335 at-bats. True, he hasn't seen a pitch he won't swing at, but he has all of the tools needed to be successful at the plate.
Secondly, he would be an asset in the field, possessing “about as strong an outfield arm as you’ll find in the major leagues,” per Mayo. Simply put, outfielders with howitzers that can swing the bat don’t come around often. Guerrero would fit in well with the other prospects in the Twins system.
Acquiring Willingham comes with a bit of inherent risk. As Heyman added, “he tends to be streaky, but he has been pretty productive, even playing home games in Oakland and Minnesota, two pitchers parks, as he's averaged 23 home runs over the last eight seasons.”
Regardless of Willingham’s uneven play, the Mariners need a bat in the lineup, and a deal like this could be enough to land him.
Is it a lot to give up? Sure. With offense in short supply at this season's trade deadline, however, it is the price they will have to pay.