Josh Willingham reported to Spring Training on Wednesday and it triggered everyone giving their opinion on if the Twins should trade the slugger or not. I am solidly in the trade him camp.
The main and most obvious reason for this has nothing to do with Willingham and it has all to do with circumstance. The Twins are becoming young and by the end of this 2014 (at the very latest the spring 2015) the Twins will be fully engulfed in their new brigade of young players. If things don’t go terribly wrong, Byron Buxton and Oswaldo Arcia should be penciled in as part of the long-term Twins outfield. I think Aaron Hicks brings a lot to the table and should be the third guy, but even if he doesn’t grab it some other young gun will.
Willingham also shouldn’t be in the outfield and he shouldn’t be filler in the designated hitter spot when the next generation comes up. I won’t hound on Willingham’s defense (for the thousandth time), but he not holding up the DH spot is a new theory.
There have been many people that have worried about Miguel Sano’s defense, Willingham’s departure would open that opportunity up for him. The same could go for Oswaldo Arcia or anyone else for that matter. We all know that the Minnesota Twins love to get old guys off the trash heap to help them along as well. Some work great (see: Jim Thome) and others not so great (see: well… we don’t want to go down that rabbit hole).
Willingham has a cheap contract at single-digit million money. Any contender that needs an extra power/veteran boost at the deadline would look to the Twins for a good deal.
Another sign for his potential departure is the fact that no Twins promotion is centered around Willingham in 2014. Just a year after the Twins had the ‘Hammer’ bobblehead and he was the cover-man for the team’s pocket schedule, they have dropped Willingham from their marketing and promotional plan.
Willingham is on the wrong side of 35 for this team. He isn’t the pure slugger that fits a permanent DH role either down the road. The best way to move forward in anything is to know when to trade in your assets and the Twins need to move Willingham while he’s still an asset.