Josh Willingham is with his third team in as many seasons, but it’s starting to sound unlikely that he’ll change jerseys again in 2012.
Willingham was one of the offseason’s best signings and has the potential to be one of the trade deadline’s biggest chips, but the Minnesota Twins are reportedly not interested in parting ways with their left fielder.
The Twins signed the 33-year-old to a three-year, $21 million contract this winter and have been rewarded handsomely for their investment. Willingham ranks fourth in the American League with a .980 OPS, and is hitting .290 with 13 home runs.
As a big Twins fan, you’d figure I’d be excited to see the team holding on to its best hitter, but I’m actually disappointed the front office isn’t capitalizing on an opportunity to build toward the future.
The team has been playing better baseball of late, but at 25-36 Minnesota still has the worst record in the AL. They lost 99 games a year ago, so it seems counter-productive for the team to hold on to an aging corner outfielder who’s not going to be around by the time the franchise turns things around.
The only way this makes sense is if ownership opens its wallet and makes a run over the next two years. That seems unlikely, however, as the team slashed its payroll by over $10 million from 2011 despite increased revenues that are still rolling in from Target Field.
Willingham’s value is as high as it’s ever going to get and the Twins are a franchise in desperate need of some young players to build around. You almost never pull for your team to ditch one of its best players, but with the Twins and Willingham, it seems like the appropriate move to make.
Maybe the front office will change its mind before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
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