Most of you have seen the news that the Nationals have traded Josh Willingham to the Oakland A's. I am going to reserve judgment on this trade until I see all the pieces in place. That being said though, I think this will end up being a good trade for the Nationals in the long run.
Willingham, though still under team control through this coming season, is 31 years old and his body is breaking down like a 38 year old. He has had numerous stints on the DL for a variety of maladies. And, while it hurts to see the Hammer go, sometimes you have to do whats best for the long-term good of the team. For a team that needs to get faster, more athletic, and better defensively, Hammer (and Dunn) don't fit that mold.
[Update - 3:27]
In return for Willingham, the Nats are receiving RHP Henry Rodriguez and OF Corey Brown.
23 year old right-handed power pitcher. Pitched 27.2 innings with the A's last year and put up a 4.55 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and an absolutely filthy 10.73 K/9. In AAA Sacramento in 21.1 IP he had a 1.69 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and a more filthy 13.08 K/9.
Rodriguez has the potential to be a solid bullpen arm, who may even join the battle-royal for the #5 spot in the rotation.
Corey Brown is a 25 year old left-handed outfielder who has 30HR potential but has been sidelined in the past 24 months with a knee injury. A quick look at his stats show domination at the AA level (at age 24) but struggles at AAA. Last year in 90 games at AA Midland he hit .320, drove in 49, with an OPS of .916. But at 41 games at AAA Sacramento he hit just .196, with 20 RBIs, and a meager .631 OPS.
Brown is at the point in his career where its time to move on or be left behind (See: Justin Maxwell). At 25 he is reaching the point where he is too old to be a prospect and runs the risk of becoming the dreaded AAAA player (See: Justin Maxwell). In my opinion he doesn't project higher than a .260 hitter with mediocre power (See: Justin Maxwell).
The Nats were able to get 2 of the A's top 15 prospects for an arbitration eligible player that is coming off of knee surgery and who everyone knew wasn't going to be in DC for 2011 due to the Werth signing.
Trade Grade: B+
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