Josh Willingham will be eligible for free agency following next season. But if he has his way, he won't make it that far without a new contract from the Nationals. According to Adam Kilgore, Willingham doesn't even want to enter free agency, and is hoping to reach a long term extension with the Nationals before that time comes.
Whether or not that extension will get done is another issue entirely.
"I do believe he's going ... he's going to [be] an incredibly successful free agent after this year," (Willingham's agent Matt) Sosnick said. "But it's totally in their hands. We will defer to what they want to do. That's the process. We respect that. If they want to do a one-year deal, we'll do a one-year deal."
We've seen how the Nationals handle long term contracts (Adam Dunn), so take this information with a grain of salt. But it is important to know that this is where Willingham really wants to be. He shouldn't be as expensive as Dunn so this is a deal that has a chance to get done.
Kilgore also reports that the Nationals could consider moving Willngham to first base to replace Dunn if they chose to pursue another outfielder in lieu of a defensive replacement at first. Apparently Willingham came into the minors as a third baseman and played 68 games at first while he was working his way up. Do I think Willingham could do a serviceable job at first? Yes. Is this the defensive minded first base replacement for Adam Dunn that I thought the Nationals were talking about all summer? Ummm, no. Not exactly.
Either way, Willingham wants to be here and he should carry a relatively modest price tag given his production. This is a deal that should get done.