Reggie Von Bartles
Hot Stove: The Twins Sign Outfielder Josh Willingham
Thursday December 15th, 2011
In an effort to bolster their lineup, the Minnesota Twins have agreed to a sign outfielder Josh Willingham three-year deal worth $21 million according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
The deal was reported earlier in the week and was finalized after Willingham completed his physical. The deal also includes incentives that give Josh a chance to earn additional $1 million.
Willingham, 32, spent last season with the Oakland Athletics after signing a one-year deal during the 2010 off-season. In 136 games, he hit .246/.332/.477, setting a career high in home runs (29) and RBI (98).
Prior to the 2011 season, Willingham spent his entire season in the National League East, splitting seven seasons between the then Florida Marlins and Washington Nationals. In eight big league seasons, he's a career .262/.361/.475 hitter with a .836 OPS. During his eight-year career, Willingham has hit at least 20 home runs four times. While his home run totals are not eye-popping, they will certainly be welcomed on a Twins team that managed to hit an American League worst 103 homers in 2011.
With Willingham signed to play left field, it likely signals that the team has moved on from free agent and former Twin Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer, 32, is reportedly seeking a three-year deal worth approximately $30 million. The Colorado Rockies seem to be the closest to landing Cuddyer, but the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds have also shown interest.
On paper, it appears the Twins made a wise decision to prefer Willingham over Cuddyer. As Aaron Gleeman of NBC Sports explains, the Twins will be better off down the road with the two-high draft picks that Cuddyer brings Minnesota after he signs with a new team in addition to the extra cashed saved by preferring Wiillingham over Cuddyer.
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