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Josh Willingham to Royals: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IAugust 11, 2014

USA Today

Ten days ago, the Kansas City Royals stood firm, electing not to make any moves as the MLB non-waiver trade deadline came and passed. 

Seven wins in a row can instantly change a game plan, though. With the AL Central lead suddenly within the team's grasp, general manager Dayton Moore has swung a deal with the Minnesota Twins for left fielder Josh Willingham that will send minor leaguer Jason Adam to the Twins.

The team's official Twitter feed has confirmation and details of the swap:

Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star explained how the post-deadline deal was made possible and reported on the roster transaction to make room for Willingham:

General Manager Dayton Moore briefly commented on the rationale for making the move, via Dick Kaegel of MLB.com:

We felt the time was right to be aggressive and add another bat.

(...)

We claimed him when he went through waivers and we were able to execute a deal. Josh is a proven bat, one of the best on-base guys with 250 plate appearances right now in the game.

Willingham, 35, is hitting just .210/.345/.402 on the season with 12 home runs and 34 RBI. However, he is a veteran slugger who hit 35 home runs as recently as 2012 and owns a career .825 OPS. 

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Even with his current pedestrian numbers, he presents a clear upgrade for this Kansas City lineup. With Eric Hosmer on the disabled list and Billy Butler manning first base, 42-year-old Raul Ibanez has handled the designated hitter duties.   

Although "handled" might be generous. 

Ibanez is hitting .166/.252/.296 on the season and just .193/.233/.386 in 20 games with the Royals. Moreover, he's completely lost against lefties (a whopping one hit in 46 plate appearances), while Willingham is slugging .429 against them on the year. 

Fox Sports' Jon Morosi applauded the addition: 

The Royals are 21st in the league in OPS. Willingham may not be having a standout season, and he has never really hit for a great average, but he reaches base and has pop in his bat. That's an unquestionable bonus for the hottest team in baseball. 

Leading the second wild-card spot and just 0.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the Central, Kansas City looks intent on its first postseason appearance in nearly three decades. 

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