The Nationals just traded Josh Willingham to the Oakland Athletics for Henry Rodriguez and Corey Brown. That wasn't very much of a surprise. We knew that once they signed Jayson Werth that Willingham, and particularly his salary, no longer had a place on the Nationals roster. At that point, it was pretty much determined that he would spend the next year with the highest bidder.
The package they acquired for him however, was a little bit questionable. Not so much in terms of talent, but in terms of fit. Before we evaluate the two players the Nationals received for the Hammer we have to remember that he is coming off a major knee injury and will be a free agent following next season. His trade value doesn't necessarily match his production.
Henry Rodriguez is a fire-throwing reliever who could prove to be the most powerful arm in the Nationals bullpen, even if he has some trouble finding the strike zone. Corey Brown has been described as (and this is one of my favorite baseball words) "toolsy." He has potential, but he is already 25 and hasn't been able to stay healthy. It's not the best return in the world, but it's two players who could make a difference on the Nationals by the time their time here is done.
Having said that, I'm not sure how long they will be here. There's always room in the bullpen for somebody who throws the ball as hard as Rodriguez, but the Nationals bullpen is now extremely crowded, and features some of their more attractive trade pieces. Not that there is anything wrong with having a good and deep bullpen, but when you are a team that is struggling to get wins, it is worth trading excess at one position for help at a position of much greater need.
Is Rodriguez better than Drew Storen? Probably not. But could he help fill the void if Storen gets moved for a front of the rotation starting pitcher? Absolutely. In this Willingham trade the Nationals created excess at a position which was already considered one of their strengths. It's hard for me to believe that they're done dealing. I think this trade might just be the beginning.
Must reads from around the SB Nation Network:
- Federal Baseball reacts to the Josh Willingham trade. Check out the comments section for everything you need to know about the two players the Nats got back.
- Testudo Times on potential replacements for James Franklin as Maryland's offensive coordinator.
- Casual Hoya wonders who has been Georgetown's MVP so far this season.
On tap today at SB Nation D.C.: