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Teams interested in Willingham

Dec 7, 2010, 12:53 AM EDT

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Nationals’ signing of Jayson Werth to a massive, $126 million contract could have a profound domino effect on the club’s overall plan for the rest of the offseason. It opens the door for other prominent free agents to take the Nationals seriously after previously considering the perennial last-place club an afterthought.

It could also open the door for the Nationals to deal away one of their established, everyday players.

Werth’s signing creates a logjam of sorts in Washington’s outfield, and Josh Willingham could wind up as the odd man out. Several clubs have expressed interest in acquiring the 31-year-old, and general manager Mike Rizzo is amenable to making a deal if he gets the right package in return.

“I guess with the addition of an outfielder, it would make another outfielder a little bit more comfortable to move, if you get the right deal,” Rizzo said on the first official day of the Winter Meetings. “But Josh Willingham is not just any outfielder. He’s a good, productive player, and a guy that we’re going to have to get the right deal in return to move him.”

Read my full story, including the names of several teams interested in Willingham, on CSNwashington.com.

  1. alexva - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:19 AM

    Jacoby Ellsbury would great roaming CF in Nats park.

  2. Anonymous8 - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:33 AM

    What do you all think of trading for Lorenzo Cain of the Brewers?The Brewers are in need of starting pitching and looking for someone who can pitch now so maybe they would take someone not named JZimmermann and choose from (Lannan, Marquis, Detwiler, Livan)

  3. David - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:55 AM

    Brewers acquired Shaun Marcum from Toronto for a Canadian second base prospect Brett Lawrie. Lawrie was a first round pick in 2008 and he looks to have a little pop in his bat for a second baseman. Seems like little to give up for a 13-8 pitcher who has a 3.68 ERA. Guess it will save Toronto money and get a hometown boy to "boot"

  4. Section 222 - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:16 AM

    Ok, I'm all for moving Willingham for a decent starter, but having read your CSN piece Mark I'm just baffled at how both Rizzo and Riggleman seem perfectly happy with Nyjer Morgan as our starting CF. What do they see in him? Certainly not what we all saw last year — no power, terrible hitting vs. lefties, a nothing burger for an arm, "still learning the game" at age 30, an accident waiting to happen on the basepaths, and very overrated in the field. Can we please give Bernadina a shot at a full time job in center?

  5. sparky - Dec 7, 2010 at 2:20 AM

    What Section 222 said, only with even more frustration.

  6. JaneB - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:08 AM

    Maybe no one else wants Nyjer? Maybe they have reason to think he is getting his head straight and will be the 2009 Nyjer instead of the 2010 Nyjer? Because it would be great if he was the Nyjer we first got.

  7. Doc - Dec 7, 2010 at 3:33 AM

    @ Section 222: My thoughts exactly after reading the Rizzo interview. WTF are they still pumping up Morgan?? Willingham, Bernadina, Werth, and Morse doesn't leave much real baseball for Nyjer. Werth in CF, with the other guys on the side is the better alternative. There are ball girls that throw the ball better than Morgan!I'd say good ol' Uncle Jimmy is the worst culprit here. Strange stuff!

  8. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 4:39 AM

    Does anybody else remember that Bernadina ended up with a slash line of .246/.307/.384? Those are actually WORSE than Nyger. I'm not trying to defend Nyjer by any means but I'm not sure Bernie is the answer either. Even if he improves I wouldn't project him at much more than .270/.340/.405. He is a smarter base runner and has a better arm but according to UZR the team is correct about him being better suited for LF and those numbers don't really hold up that well in the corner outfield.Werth is not a good CFer, he is a very good RFer though, I don't see why people would want to move him from where he would be a strength to where he is only average at best.

  9. Anonymous - Dec 7, 2010 at 5:31 AM

    What CF / LEad off prospects are in the ofarm system rihgt now? My take is that the perception and probably reality is that Nyger is still the best option in leadoff/ CF right now and that they won't be able to upgrade either spot this winter. It seems that the CF / Leadoff spot is his to loose for the moment, but I am hoping that Nyger won't need the unlimited second chances this season like he was last season.

  10. NatsJack in Florida - Dec 7, 2010 at 10:44 AM

    I actually asked Rick Eckstein abut Bernie's fall off at the end of last season and he attributed it to having a "tired" bat. It was his first full season of ML baseball after coming off the fractured ankle in early 2009.Rick seemed very confident that he could get Bernie to go to the opposite field like he was doing in the first half of last season.As for Nyjer, JayneB, I firmly believe the guy we saw for 6 weeks in 2009 was an aberration and the idiot we saw for all of 2010 is who he is. We desperately need an "athlete" with a brain that can throw, hit and play knowledgeable baseball in CF.

  11. joel - Dec 7, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    Why doesn't Mike Morse get more consideration as a potential starter in LF? He put up really solid numbers last year and looked good playing everyday towards the end of the season, yet it seems like the team is really pushing Bernadina. It seems to me that Morse is the more consistent bat and that Bernadina's versatility would be more valuable as a 4th OF'er because he can handle all 3 spots in OF.

  12. Sunderland - Dec 7, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    joel – I think that's the point of trying to trade Willingham for pitching.Sign a left handed FA 1B.Trade Willingham for pitching.Platoon Morse and Bernie in left field.Nyjer is CF, Werth in RF.That seems to be today's "plan".And no matter how much Nyjer improves his batting and baserunning (and I'm not counting on it), he still has, by a wide margin, the worst arm of any MLB CF'er.

  13. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Dec 7, 2010 at 12:38 PM

    I'm with Sec. 222 and Sunderland. I think Nyjer starts the year in CF but with a very short leash. He's hitting .240 by Memorial Day, and it's sayonara. I don't know what Plan B is, but trading Willingham in a package with perhaps Desmond for a decent front-line starter seems all but a certainty. That leaves us with Bernie/Morse in a platoon in LF, Nyjer for 45 days in CF and the $126 million man in RF. If Dessie gets swapped, Espinosa moves to short until Lombardozzi is ready for a call-up at 2B.I'm pleased, but not satisfied at their progress. They got Uncle Teddy to open the check book. I guess rents at White Flint and Reston Town Center are sure to rise!

  14. Joe Sommer - Dec 7, 2010 at 12:39 PM

    The problem with Nyjer is that CF is a glove position. You really don't want to downgrade CF defense to get more bat. So I don't think that Werth is a viable candidate, although an OF of Willingham, Werth, and Morse/Bernardina is offensively pretty decent.The only Nat I know who can play CF as well as Nyjer is Justin Maxwell. Maxwell is an excellent defender, a magnificent athlete, and an all-around good guy. But he can't hit, even by Nyjer 2010 standards.

  15. The Great Unwashed - Dec 7, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    If it turns out Morse or Willingham becomes the new first baseman, who is the #4 hitter? Willimham hit 5th, and I think Werth did too. Zim is a 3 hole hitter. All of these guys are 20-25 HR guys which is good, but not #4 type hitters. I don't think it makes sense to try to convert them because that's not who they are and then they might press and actually lower their averages. So who will be the #4 hitter? We can't assume Pena or LaRoche will be signed.

  16. Bob L. Head - Dec 7, 2010 at 7:25 PM

    I don't see the BoSox giving up Ellsbury — who would they play in center? An outfield of 38-year old Mike Cameron, J.D. Drew and Willingham would really be substandard.

  17. DFL - Dec 7, 2010 at 9:09 PM

    Josh Willingham for Jacoby Ellsbury would be a real winner but it would also be unlikely. An outfield of Werth, Ellsbury and, perhaps, free agent Scot Podsednik in left-field might be the pitching-defense-speed team Rizzo wants.

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