“Hammer” as he’s known around
Willingham has made it known that he would prefer a long term deal with the Nationals; unfortunately, long term deals for guys heading into the wrong side of 30 and who are also injury prone are few and far between. Instead of waiting till the deadline to move Willingham, the Nationals should explore all avenues currently available to them. Of course, I'm not suggesting you trade Hammer for a bucket of baseballs, but, if the right deal comes along, why wait till the July trade deadline to get it done?
When the market is providing inefficiencies, you exploit it. Had the Baltimore Orioles traded Ty Wigginton when he was in the midst of a career year in May, and when the trade market was the shallowest, the Orioles could have made a killing. Instead, they overplayed their hand with Wigginton and ended up having to hold on to the 33 year old journey man when the market for below average hitters dried up.
Josh Willingham is a better player than Ty Wigginton, make no mistake about it, but the Nationals need to use Wigginton as an example of what can go wrong if you wait too long to trade away a moveable asset.
The Dodgers, for their part, are known for trading away great young talent for mediocre returns. Imagine what they might pay the Nationals for Willingham. If Casey Blake brings the Indians catching sensation Carlos Santana, what could Hammer bring back to the Nats?
With the Dodgers owners currently fighting it out in divorce court, one thing the team cannot afford to do is take on a lot of salary; one way of avoiding salary for big name players is by paying in prospects.
History of overpaying for MLB talent + the need to avoid adding large amounts of money to the payroll = a potentially huge haul for Willingham, an OF’er that is currently only under contract for one more year and more than likely will have hit his decline by the time the Nationals are ready to compete for a pennant.
If Mike Rizzo is serious about building an organization that can sustain success for many years, and not just fielding a somewhat competitive MLB club to appease the masses in 2011, Josh Willingham has to be a name that he brings up to the Los Angeles Dodgers.