Despite the Minnesota Twins' up and down start this year, it is most likely that the team will be sellers at the trade deadline. There will be plenty of talk about Justin Morneau being dealt in the coming months since his contract is up at the end of the year. Another name which will draw much speculation is Josh Willingham.
Willingham is coming off his best season and there might be more than one team looking to add a powerful corner bat for the stretch run. In a story published this weekend, the Boston Globe talked about the possibility of a Willingham trade
According to one National League GM, "He's a powerful right-handed bat that any contender could stick right in the middle of their lineup and get outstanding production."
He went on to say, "You'd have to give something up, but he'd be worth the expenditure. He can really hit."
ESPN's Rumor Central mentioned the Pirates as a possible trade fit.
They need an upgrade in their outfield and they have some players in the minor leagues that could be attractive to the Twins. It also helps that Willingham has a very club friendly contract. He is in the second year of a three-year, $21 million deal which any team could afford.
Another wrinkle to the Willingham trade rumors is the ascension of stud prospect Oswaldo Arcia. It has been a whirlwind couple of days for Arcia. He made his MLB debut on Monday, he played for Rochester on Tuesday, and he got called back up to the big leagues after that game. Darin Mastroianni's injury will mean a longer look at Arcia this time around.
Arcia won't turn 22 until next month, becoming the youngest position player to debut with the Twins since 20-year-old Joe Mauer. He was killing the ball at Triple-A and he certainly deserved this call-up. In ten games for Rochester, he was hitting .394/.474/.727 with three home runs, two doubles and eight runs scored.
If Arcia had kept putting up those types of numbers it would have been hard to keep him at Triple-A. The problem for the Twins is finding him a place in the line-up. Arcia is used as a corner outfielder or designated hitter. The Twins have plenty of these types of players with Willingham, Chris Parmelee, and Ryan Doumit.
For Arcia to stick with the Twins, they likely will need to make a trade. Morneau could be dealt creating a spot (first base) for Parmelee to move to. Willingham could also be traded to open an opening in the outfield. Both of these men could be traded before July and then there would be plenty of playing time for Mr. Arcia.
His career is moving rapidly. He started the 2012 season at the High-A level so he played only 69 games at Double-A before getting the bump to Rochester this spring. He had a total of nine Triple-A games under his belt before he made his MLB debut.
There should be tempered expectations for Arcia in the Majors, as we have seen how much Aaron Hicks has struggled. The Twins need Arcia to be a cornerstone of the franchise as the team tries to get back to winning baseball. This will be the first taste of what is to come.
With (well-paid) players blocking Arcia's path, he most likely will get more playing time at Triple-A. If the Twins are looking to be sellers at the trade deadline a deal including Willingham could pave the way for Arcia settling in to a long-term spot on the roster.
Willingham has done some great things in his Twins tenure but Arcia is the wave of the future.