In a post on his MLB Blog network yesterday, Nats beat writer Bill Ladson explains why Josh Willingham feels he will not be traded at this year’s trade deadline:
“I have really gotten comfortable with the people in the organization — the ownership all the way down to every employee,” said Willingham, who is hitting .276 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs entering Monday’s action against the Reds. “That means a lot when you talk about being comfortable in baseball. I feel very comfortable here. I like everybody in the organization.”
Asked if he would be traded after general manager Mike Rizzo said Willingham “is part of the family. We want him around long-term,” the right-handed hitting slugger believes he would remain a member of the Nationals. It’s not a secret that Willingham is one of Rizzo’s favorite players on the team.
“Rizzo has never told me something that was not true and that started last year in Miami when I wasn’t playing,” Willingham said. “We had breakfast together and laid it out on the table. I told him how I felt and he told me how he felt.
“He told me how it was going to happen and it’s exactly how it happened. He has been as honest with me as anybody. So I absolutely believe [I will not be traded].”
Willingham this year has been a force in the Nationals line-up, posting numbers of .276 with 15 homers and 49 RBI.
As I had written earlier this season, I was convinced that Willingham should’ve been the Nats representative at this year’s All-Star game. He has been a breath of fresh air in the Nationals outfield ever since Jim Riggleman decided to play him every day last year.
In my opinion, Josh Willingham is the type of player you need to keep on a team that wants to compete down the road. His attitude is so important to the younger players on this team. He is 31-years old and won’t be much more than what he is now, which is a productive hitter playing without a strong defensive position.
But, he comes to the ballpark everyday to play and leave everything he has on the field. Nobody can put a specific price tag on what it is like to have a true veteran leader in the clubhouse on a team searching for an identity. I don’t see any possibilities in the Nationals trading him because of what Willingham means to the mood in the clubhouse.
However, there are other players on the proverbial chopping block for the Nationals. Here’s a quick look at four other names to pay attention to:
Adam Dunn: Dunn’s situation comes down to two important factors. From what I have heard, the Nationals would like to find a way to sign Dunn to an affordable contract extension. But, in the event that an extension can’t be had, they would prefer to trade him before the deadline to bring back some developing talent.
The problem with trading Dunn comes down to this; Adam Dunn refuses to be limited to a role as a DH, but no National League team feels comfortable playing Dunn in the field for nine innings.
He is the perfect DH, and a team like the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels or Detroit Tigers would benefit exponentially from acquiring the power bat to plug in the middle of the line-up.
One team that I feel could make a surprise move for Adam Dunn, now this is only my opinion and I haven’t read or heard of any reported rumblings, could be the Oakland A’s. The A’s have fought back to .500 in the AL West and Billy Beane could think that trading for Dunn’s bat now PLUS the two first round picks the team will receive next off-season if Dunn signs elsewhere could be great for now and for the future.
Adam Kennedy: Kennedy is a veteran bat from the left side of the plate a contending team will love to have on their bench for the stretch run. He is a good presence to have in the clubhouse and has the experience in the post season contending teams strive for.
The New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, San Francisco Giants or San Diego Padres could be looking to add depth to their benches, and surely Kennedy’s name will be kicked around as we get closer to the trade deadline.
Cristian Guzman: Guzman is an interesting case. He has a good deal of money left on the tail end of his contract, so any team trading for him would like the Nats to pick up a portion of the tab if they acquire him.
Guzman, like Kennedy, is a valuable piece to a contending team’s bench, because Guzman is a switch hitter and can play both middle infield positions. The Nats have even tried him in the corner outfield slots. The same cast of characters looking at Kennedy will look at Guzman, with the Yankees drumming up the most interest in my mind, due to their notoriously deep pockets.
Matt Capps: In the case of Capps, MLB Trade Rumors has recently posted an article stating that the Nats are reluctant to trade Adam Dunn, while insiders would be shocked if the team traded either Willingham or Matt Capps. Capps has a year of arbitration left, and has provided a steady, reliable arm to a bullpen that has been ravished with inconsistency over the last few years.
I fully expect Matt Capps to stay put in Washington, especially considering the market for relievers. Currently, the top three relievers on the market reportedly are Octavio Dotel, Scott Downs, and Kevin Gregg. None of those names are flashy or sexy, so it’s safe to say Matt Capps isn’t going anywhere any time soon.