Although it may have been a foregone conclusion, the speculation finally became reality on Tuesday as the Minnesota Twins placed outfielder Josh Willingham on revocable waivers according to Peter Gammons of the MLB Network. It has been a tumultuous season for the Twins and Willingham as Willingham has struggled with injuries and his hitting on his way to accumulating season totals of a .214 batting average with 12 HR and 45 RBI. With Willingham slated to earn seven million dollars next year in the final year of his contract, it comes as no surprise that the Twins may try to deal the veteran to a playoff team in order to get value for him while they still can; however, the option still remains that the Twins can keep the slugger around for next season with the hopes that Wilingham rebounds next season and returns to his slugging form of last season.
Willingham may no longer be able to play outfield for the Twins, but he still could serve as a valuable designated hitter in their lineup next season and I’m sure many teams who are currently pursuing him view him as a designated hitter as well. Since being activated on Aug. 9 from knee surgery, Willingham is batting just .177 with a pair of homers; so needless to say, the return the Twins could receive for Willingham may be minimal. A pessimist would point to the Twins failure to trade Willingham last season as the true mistake in this whole situation, as Willingham was coming off of a career year and his value had never been higher. With this value, the Twins could have inherited another nice young prospect to add to their system, but instead they hung on to Willingham and are now stuck with a player who is only a shell of the player he was a year ago.
Can you blame the Twins? In a way you could, but there is no way of knowing if the Twins intended to keep Willingham or not last offseason. There is a very good chance that the Twins tried to trade Willingham last offseason, but couldn’t find the right deal that would give them the value they perceived out of Willingham in return for his services. Remember, Willingham was coming off a huge year and there was no reason to expect that he couldn’t have another strong year and could be dealt at the deadline this year for the package that the Twins had in mind.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for the Twins and Willingham, but is it too soon to give up on Willingham? Would it be better to hang on to Willingham for one more year with hopes of increasing his trade value one last time? That is the question that can only be answered by Twins’ general manager Terry Ryan; hopefully this time, he makes the right choice.