Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: AdamKilgoreWP and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Sports and Redskins  |  RSS
Posted at 5:50 PM ET, 11/17/2010

Josh Willingham unlikely to receive extension

By Adam Kilgore

The Nationals have three options this offseason with left fielder Josh Willingham, who is entering his final year of arbitration and will be a free agent following the 2011 season. They could sign him to a multi-year contract extension, which Willingham would prefer; he wants to finish his career in Washington. They could sign him to another year contract. They could trade him.

Early in the offseason, it seems unlikely that Willingham, 31, will get his wish. The Nationals will likely either give Willingham another one-year deal, either in arbitration or otherwise, or trade him.

In late October, Willingham's agent, Matt Sosnick, expressed Willingham's desire to remain in Washington for at least the next several seasons. He also said he respected the arbitration process and the decision was entirely up to General Manager Mike Rizzo and the Nationals.

"I think we're going to take him one year at a time, like we've been doing," Rizzo said. "That's the short answer. But things are fluid, and they could always change. We'll see what the season brings us."

Several teams have inquired about a trade for Willingham, Rizzo said. Rizzo, of course, did not mention any specific potential trade partners. But the Rockies are believed to be one of the teams that has shown interest in Willingham.

"His name has been brought up by several people," Rizzo said. "He's a right-handed bat that's a productive bat. There's not a lot of those guys out there."

This year, when healthy, Willingham was among the most productive outfielders in the National League and a middle-of-the-order force for the Nationals. At the all-star break, Willingham was hitting .281/.411/.502 (average/on-base/slugging) with 15 home runs in 281 at-bats. Shortly thereafter, he started feeling sharp pain in his left knee.

Willingham played his last game on Aug. 15 and missed the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on the meniscus in his left knee. He finished hitting .268/.389/.459 while playing in 114 games for the season, hitting only one home run in his last 114 at-bats. Willingham has fully recovered from the surgery, which was not major.

"We expect him to be 100 percent come spring training, and 100 percent of Willingham is a fine player," Rizzo said. "He's a big part of the middle of our lineup and a really good player."

Willingham has expressed his willingness to play first base for the Nationals should they not re-sign Adam Dunn. Rizzo, though, said Willingham would remain in the outfield, assuming he remains a National for the upcoming season.

"It hasn't been a thought in my mind, as of this point," Rizzo said. "I've never seen him play first base, so I can't comment on how he plays it. He hasn't played it very often, so I think we're in a position where we're having a guy at the major league level learning a new position. I don't really want to put that kind of pressure on him offensively or defensively. He's gotten really good in left field. I don't want to weaken ourselves in two positions by putting him in a new position. That's the thought on Nov. 17."

Willingham made $4.6 million in 2010. Through arbitration, he would likely be a due a raise to somewhere between $6 million and $6.5 million.

By Adam Kilgore  | November 17, 2010; 5:50 PM ET
 
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Nationals have discussions with Carl Pavano
Next: Nationals brass departs as baseball meetings close

Comments

Of course Josh wants a long term contract – every player does. If he blows a knee in June and needs big surgery, he’s gonna have to scrape for what he can get in 2012. He wants to finish his career with a lot of guaranteed money being paid to him more than he wants to be a perennial last place Nat, of course. It makes perfect sense to pay Josh for 2011, either via arb or a straight 1 yr deal. It makes no sense at all for Rizzo to set his value above market, potentially, should he get hurt, underperform, the market change or a trading partner not want the commitment of years and money. He is most valuable year to year and it is a no brainer. And I am not even taking into consideration this guy’s past health issues and the value of having him play for a contract as incentive.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 17, 2010 5:59 PM | Report abuse

dfh21, who I usually (well almost always) disagree with, pretty much has it tagged here. Willingham is a slightly VARP type and a good addition to the lineup, but he is far from a key piece of any contender.

Also, as the next few days go by and as the owners meetings are held, later, let's remember that between the flagpoles that GMs & others are running things up, and the trial balloons that are being floated, the air above Orlando will be incredibly crowded.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | November 17, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

In terms of full-time Left-Fielders, Willingham strikes me as a middle-third player; No speed, but good gap power, patient at the plate, steady glove. At 31, he might be worth a 2-yr (plus option) deal for around $12.5M, imo. That would buy him out of Arbitration & offers another year+ of control, which adds value to the team in terms of a trade asset.

Posted by: BinM | November 17, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone explain to me what a "slightly VARP" player is?

Posted by: comish4lif | November 17, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse

Can anyone explain to me what a "slightly VARP" player is?

Posted by: comish4lif | November 17, 2010 7:14 PM
=====================================================================================
Less than "very VARP."

You're welcome.

Posted by: gilbertbp | November 17, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Value above replacement player.

also, sometimes rephrased as VORP

Value of replacement player.

In other words, if you replaced the player under discussion with the average player, at that position, in the majors.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | November 17, 2010 8:10 PM | Report abuse

The only reason Willingham is not more highly valued is health. His talent and performance over 150+ games would probably make him a Type A talent. Keeping him on a year to year basis until he puts in a full year seems appropriate.

Posted by: natbiscuits | November 17, 2010 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Willingham's key is staying healthy for this year.

He looked like an All Star for the first half of 2010 and like he did in 2009, he faded quickly after the All Star break.

My question last year was does he need more rest in May and June to keep him viable for August and September?

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | November 17, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

Tigers zooming in on Dunn, reportedly. Just a rumor.

http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2010/11/17/tigers-adam-dunn-reportedly-closing-in-on-deal/

Posted by: EdDC | November 17, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Possible home for Dunn:

http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2010/11/17/tigers-adam-dunn-reportedly-closing-in-on-deal/

Posted by: EdDC | November 17, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Not so fast with the Tigers and Dunn.

2:04pm: ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that a source says talk about Dunn going to the Tigers is "way too premature." Detroit likes the first baseman/outfielder/DH, but they're not that far along in talks.

Posted by: nunof1 | November 17, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

What does "100% healthy" mean for a player who has only twice played 140 or more games in a season? The guy is good but he is always hurt.

Posted by: JohnWWW | November 17, 2010 10:55 PM | Report abuse

"My question last year was does he need more rest in May and June to keep him viable for August and September?"

Apparently not. Recall all the time off Manny Acta gave Willingham in April and May 2009 so that he could play Austin Kearns instead. The early season rest did not result in a better August and September for Josh. He peaked in July, just like 2010.

Posted by: nunof1 | November 17, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Hi, allow me invite you to my community:--== Black White Hub * C o m ==-- ( many sexy ladies and handsome guys seeking fun, friendship, love and even more!!!!!).Best single dating site in the world! It's where hot black and white can meet. No matter you are looking for a NSA or serious relationship, please do check it out! also you may find yourself more compatible with different cultures and ethnicities, either within your community, or abroad. You can sometimes learn valuable advice from other races on how to conduct themselves in a difficult situation. Join us and contact tens of thousands of hot black and white personals!It's where hot black and white who like them can get loved.

Posted by: abulaw | November 18, 2010 3:05 AM | Report abuse

Hi, allow me invite you to my community:--== Black White Hub * C o m ==-- ( many sexy ladies and handsome guys seeking fun, friendship, love and even more!!!!!).Best single dating site in the world! It's where hot black and white can meet. No matter you are looking for a NSA or serious relationship, please do check it out! also you may find yourself more compatible with different cultures and ethnicities, either within your community, or abroad. You can sometimes learn valuable advice from other races on how to conduct themselves in a difficult situation. Join us and contact tens of thousands of hot black and white personals!It's where hot black and white who like them can get loved.

Posted by: abulaw | November 18, 2010 3:06 AM | Report abuse

I thought Value Over Replacement Player was explcitly *not* compared to an average mlb player, b/c average skews high, statistically. Average is better than replacement, in other words.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | November 18, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Sec3mysofa is correct. Replacement player is a player normally available on the market -- generally around 80 percent of the "average player" in the majors. Sort of like the guy who is a step away from being sent down or up.

Posted by: oldwiseman | November 18, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Talk of Dunn going anyplace is premature -- no club can really strike a deal for another club's FA until arb offers are made, which is not until the end of next week, I think.

Posted by: dfh21 | November 18, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I think it likely that the trade partners for Willingham want to see him back on the field & healthy before pulling the trigger. At least that is what Rizz hopes.

Posted by: shanks1 | November 18, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, I had not thought through Hammer's history of end of season slow downs. Ironically, that makes his trade value, much lower.

Basically, trade value is in two "lumps", pre-season & trade deadline. Since one would assume that a positive trade, at the deadline, would be to a contender, looking for help in a playoff run, Willingham's history would severely hurt his value at that stage. He would need at least a full year of production, with no EOY drop-off, to be valuable in that situation. That would take him to 32, almost 33.

One year at a time.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | November 18, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

The "Dunn is gone talk" is not premature, the Marlins and Tigers each signed a free agent yesterday (Buck and Benoit). Dunn could sign today if he had an offer that he liked. Also, any team signing a player before Nov 23rd automatically owes draft pick compensation.

As for dates and deadlines...
Nov. 23, 2010 - Last day for teams to offer salary arbitration to free agents in order to preserve their right to draft-pick compensation. The Nats do not offer a salary figure at this time, they merely commit to the process.

Nov. 30, 2010 - Last day for free agents to accept salary-arbitration offers. This is the players time to commit to the process.

Teams and players are free to negotiate until...

Jan. 18, 2011 - Salary arbitration figures exchanged.

Teams and players can continue to negotiate until the player's hearing is actually held sometime between...

Feb. 1-21, 2011 - Salary arbitration hearings

Posted by: comish4lif | November 18, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Seems odd to me that in one of the posts at MLB Trade Rumors, the "starting point" for discussions on Dunn with the Tigers was 3 years and 40 million. I would hope that the Nats 3 year offer was in that realm, but maybe it wasn't. It seems that if the Nats were close, offering Dunn a chance to play in the field, and Dunn so wants to play here, that he would go with the Nats over the Tigers.

Posted by: Cavalier83 | November 18, 2010 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Cav83--Boz had a chat today wherein he said the Nats offer was 3 years and $30 million. Your hopes that the Nats ownership might be competitive with any higher end guys is, alas, misplaced. Which is really sad because if they took care of their own good guys and signed a few others (no, not Lee who was never headed here) then they could at least be fun to watch, which would have kept me as a ST holder for another year. But no, they have to cheap out yet again. Sigh.

Posted by: NatsFly | November 18, 2010 12:33 PM | Report abuse

A 3 year $30M offer, if that is accurate, was very likely DOA and he Nats had to know it when they made the offer in the first place. What comparable contract were the Nats looking at to come up with that figure?? Dunn is likely going to get something like $15-20M more than that, maybe more -- not even close to the Nats's best offer. So, can someone explain again for me why Rizzo did not trade the guy if they never really wanted him in 2011?

Posted by: dfh21 | November 18, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company