Outfielder Josh Willingham has been the subject of trade rumors for what feels like forever, but still he's remained in Washington for two years. Now, though, it seems he's reached the end of his Nationals career, as a trade has been agreed to in principle that will send Willingham to the A's in exchange for two young players.
The identities of the young players aren't yet known, but Buster Olney says that one of them has Major League experience, which narrows the field.
Willingham, 31, is entering his final year of team control, and is eligible for free agency after the season. He's set to earn a raise from the $4.6 million he made in 2010. That said, while he's a short-term and moderately pricey acquisition, he also provides a solid bat, as the righty owns a career .367 OBP and .475 slugging percentage. He's always a threat to get on base and hit for power, and he'll slide into the Oakland outfield alongside David DeJesus and Coco Crisp. Ryan Sweeney will be pushed to a reserve role.
Willingham joins DeJesus and Hideki Matsui as new big-time additions to an Oakland offense that badly underperformed in 2010. The A's are priming themselves to make a run at the AL West, as the leading Rangers have missed out on re-signing Cliff Lee.
The Nationals will likely replace Willingham with some combination of Mike Morse and Roger Bernadina, and use the money saved to bring in a first baseman.
The trade is only pending the exchange of medical information, and once it's official, we'll have the names of the young players going the other way.