Josh Willingham Trade: Nationals Reportedly Agree To Trade Willingham To Oakland Athletics

After tossing his name around in trade rumors, the Nationals have decided to deal Josh Willingham to the Oakland Athletics. They received Henry Rodriguez, a 23-year old pitcher with big league experience, and outfielder Corey Brown in return.

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Josh Willingham Trade: Nationals GM Mike Rizzo Says Decision Was Not Based On Cutting Salary

The obvious reaction to the Nationals' decision to trade Josh Willingham to the Oakland Athletics for two young players (Henry Rodriguez and Corey Brown) is to declare it a salary dump used to free up money to spend elsewhere. However, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo shot down that notion in a press conference today, saying that had nothing to do with it.

Via Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

Rizzo said "the decision to trade Josh was not based on his salary or money whatsoever." Rather, Rizzo felt like now was the time he could get his best return. Rizzo also listened to offers on Willingham last year at the trade deadline, and he felt the A's offer in the past few days trumped what he been offered in July.    

The reason Rizzo traded Willingham now is that he wanted to get something for him before he left in free agency, which is what the organization didn't do with Adam Dunn. Willingham could have left after next season ends, and this way, the Nationals will get actual players as compensation. 

Rizzo said the team will likely replace Willingham with a platoon of Roger Bernandina and Michael Morse and said that he envisions Rodriguez as a set-up man in the bullpen for Drew Storen. Rodriguez cannot be optioned to the Minors, so he will be with the big league club. Brown, on the other hand, will start in AAA.

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Josh Willingham Trade: Nationals Get Pitcher Henry Rodriguez And Outfielder Corey Brown From Athletics

We now finally have a report that indicates the two "young players" the Washington Nationals have received from the Oakland Athletics. According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals will be receiving pitcher Henry Rodriguez and outfielder Corey Brown in return.

Done deal: #Nationals get RHP Henry Rodriguez and minor-league OF Corey Brown in deal for Willingham. #A's #MLB

Rodriguez is a 23-year old pitcher who has spent time in the Major Leagues in each of the last two seasons. Last season, Rodriguez had a 1-0 record with a 4.55 ERA in 29 appearances. He has closers potential and threw 100 miles per hour in a minor league game two seasons ago. The hope is that he will immediately slide into the Nationals' bullpen, along with Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen and Sean Burnett.

Brown is a 25-year old outfielder that was taken with the 57th pick in the 2007 draft. Last season, he split time between AA and AAA, performing well in AA (.320/.415/.502 with 10 home runs and 49 RBIs in 386 plate appearances) and poorly in AAA  (.193/.253/.378 with five home runs and 20 RBIs in 149 plate appearances). 

SB Nation's John Sickels ranked them as the 11th- and 12th-best prospects in the Athletics' system. Here's his take on each of them:

11) Henry Rodriguez, RHP, Grade B-:   1.69 ERA with 31/9 K/BB in 21 innings for Sacramento, 3.52 ERA with 16/8 K/BB in 15 innings in the majors. Stuff is there, just needs to throw strikes and stay healthy.    

12) Corey Brown, OF, Grade C+:    80 games, .337/.429/.537 with 10 homers, 17 steals for Midland, but .156/.207/.275 in 34 games for Sacramento. Triple-A pitching exposed his weaknesses of approach, but with his tools more chances will come.    

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Josh Willingham Trade: Deal Between Nationals, Athletics Is Done, Pending Phyiscals

It looks like Josh Willingham is indeed headed to the Oakland Athletics. The deal had been agreed to in principle, and now, it's reportedly done, pending physicals. Via Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington.

The Washington Nationals have agreed to the terms of a trade that will send left fielder Josh Willingham to the Oakland Athletics for two young players, a source familiar with the deal has confirmed.

The trade hasn't been announced yet because it's still pending physicals, but the parameters were agreed upon by both teams today.    

It's still not clear which prospects the Nationals will receive for Willingham in the trade. Willingham had one of his strongest seasons last year, but his age and his contract status made him an easy target to move. He currently has just one year left on his contract, and while he wanted to receive an extension to stay in D.C., the Nationals' brass didn't want to give him one. Therefore, general manager Mike Rizzo elected to get something for him and open up more flexibility to sign or trade for other players, as detailed by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

It's still a relatively significant loss in the short term, though, because Willingham can hit. Last season, he had an on-base percentage of .389 in just 114 games. He was bothered by a knee injury in the second half of the season, which hurt his production. 

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Josh Willingham Trade: Nationals Reportedly Agree In Principle To Trade Willingham To Oakland Athletics

Well, that escalated quickly. Just an hour or so ago we were talking about the Nationals and the A's being in serious negotiations on a Josh Willingham trade, now that deal has appeared to come to fruition.

Washington/Oakland have a deal in principal for Josh Willingham for two young players, one of whom has major league experience.less than a minute ago via web

 

Major league experience is certainly a plus, as losing Willingham will leave a big hole in the Nationals lineup. Unfortunately, it seems like Willingham was the last to know, according to this tweet form Adam Kilgore.

Over the phone, Josh Willingham said, "I haven't heard anything." As he was talking, he hung up to take a call from his agent.

We'll update this stream with the two players that the Nationals have acquired for Willingham as soon as that information becomes available.

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Josh Willingham Trade: Oakland Athletics In 'Serious Discussions' To Acquire Willingham From Washington Nationals

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Oakland A's are in "serious discussions" to acquire Josh Willingham from the Washington Nationals in exchange for two minor league players.

Willingham stands to earn a raise from $4.6 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent. The Nationals, seeking to clear payroll for other moves, would receive two minor leaguers from the A’s.

No word yet on who those minor league players would be, but we'll update you on that as soon as that information becomes available.

Willingham will be a free agent after the upcoming season, so the Nationals had to decide between moving him in a trade, extending his contract, or letting him go for nothing at the end of the season. It seems like they have chosen to capitalize on his value while they still have him under control.

The fact that Rosenthal says that the Nationals are seeking to clear payroll doesn't bode well for the quality of player coming back to the Nationals. It means the move is more of a salary dump then a trade for value. But again, we don't know what the Nationals would be receiving yet. More on this trade as it develops.

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